Center for the Development of Arts Leaders: Team Hopeful Connections

For the past few months, From the Top has been hard at work launching our Center for the Development of Arts Leaders (CDAL)! This blog is the second in a series written by Linda Gerstle, Director of Education and Community Partnerships, chronicling the pilot year of this program. Read the first post here.

When Kate Adamson, the Assistant Director of the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge Center in Boston, asked the Arts Leaders during CDAL’s January orientation weekend who knew or had known someone undergoing treatment for cancer, everyone raised a hand. The AstraZeneca Hope Lodge Center in Boston, a program of the American Cancer Society, provides a safe, supportive, and self-sufficient home away from home for those in active outpatient cancer treatment. While Hope Lodge is part of a national network, the Boston site which opened in 2008 is considered a model for the country. It has only five full time employees – the rest are all volunteers.

Kassie Eberle is the CDAL mentor working with the Hope Lodge team, which is comprised of five arts leaders who have appropriately named themselves Hopeful Connections. The team spent the first few months developing relationships with Hope Lodge residents and staff while building an understanding of the community’s unique strengths and authentic needs. In fact, the first important gathering happened in the community kitchen and revolved around an impromptu game of Apples to Apples played by the team and the guests – a great way to break the ice!


Hopeful Connections L to R: Molly, Rachel, Keith, Ryan, Lillian, Kassie (Mentor)

While the Hope Lodge hosts numerous musical and non musical events for guests, they are not connected in any systematic way, nor do they necessarily engage the guests beyond listening. Through the bi-weekly presence of the CDAL team, there is an opportunity to focus on the actual participation of the guests (some of whom are musicians), both as event planners and performers. As the Hopeful Connections team becomes more knowledgeable about some of the psycho-social dimensions of cancer treatment, they are interested in applying appropriate music therapy strategies to provide the guests with additional coping mechanisms. A fund raising event is also being planned for the future to promote the public’s awareness of this important work. And breaking bread together remains a fundamental element to this project site! The team members are each assessing their culinary preferences and skills with the intent of creating some events around meals with background music appropriate to the cuisine!

A recent performance at Hope Lodge

Kassie thinks it is “awesome that five kids who didn’t know each other three months ago have managed within very busy schedules to both meet regularly and put together the working draft of their project plan.”

With an undergraduate degree in performance, Kassie is finishing her master’s at Harvard’s Arts in Education program. During her recent experience in West Africa as part of the Peace Corps, Kassie developed a program at a school for girls using the fine arts to both showcase individual talent and build a community around the shared experiences and opportunities she was able to create for the students. As the parent of one of the team members recently noted “Kassie is such a powerful role model for her team.” And in the words of one Hopeful Connections Arts Leader– “We really have an awesome team and project site, don’t we?!”

Check out this highlight video from their most recent performance at Hope Lodge!