Giving Feature: Mereces Rodman
by Katie Wyatt, President & CEO, El Sistema USA
This month I spoke with one of El Sistema USA’s earliest supporters, Boston resident Mercedes Rodman. More than anything, Mercedes is interested in supporting the heroes of the community. Through her work, Mercedes focuses on recognizing the Directors of El Sistema programs, in order to give voice to leaders who have shown generosity of heart at the deepest level. Mercedes loves bringing together programs to mention, recognize and see the leaders for the incredible work they’re doing. She feels that the more leaders’ voices are heard, the more successful you’re going to be. She wants to challenge everyone to remember to hold up their leaders at every chance we can; in performances, in front of the public, in order to recognize the leaders behind all of our programs.
Mercedes and Rodman for Kids are the main supporters of the “Day of Joy.” This idea of bringing kids together just for fun was born because the kids in Boston-area Sistema programs have such a rigorous schedule – and they wanted to have a day where they can just play. Past Days of Joy include trips to spend a day on a zip-line, going roller skating, and the food is always pizza and sundaes. As part of the Day of Joy, the kids get to play music for one another for fun, so they can get to know one another and see each other perform. The idea is that these kids are growing up together, and not all of them will be musicians.
“One of them may grow up to be the Mayor of Boston! The kids they are growing up with will be the ones they trust. We wanted to give just a day of fun, a day of joy” remarked Rodman. “The more the kids can get to know one another, see they’re all working really hard together – same for the directors!”
Mercedes told me she brings together all the Boston-area Sistema leaders together to meet every other month in her apartment, have a working dinner to plan the Day of Joy, and also to have an exchange of ideas, another space where they’re all together. The evening is all about the generosity of heart. The whole thing is about them (the leaders) being free. They’re in control, they decide. Mercedes shared she loves being more like a cheerleader. One year our discussion was all about self-care for the teachers, or learning how to take care of themselves. Even if everyone can’t make it, there are minutes taken, they get to hear about what’s going on and stay involved. The invitation is for everyone in Massachusetts – so if you’re missing out – be sure to get in touch with Mercedes!
Mercedes is the author of Mi Mariposa Azul / My Blue Butterfly, and in addition to El Sistema USA, she supports the work of Rodman for Kids, a Massachusetts based foundation supporting children and families.