Children’s author Hans Christian Anderson is quoted as saying “Where words fail, music speaks.”
Sandra Goldstein, Elementary Program Director for Burlington Public Schools agrees. Goldstein has seen first-hand the power that music brings to her special needs students. And thanks to a grant from the Knights of Columbus’ Exceptional Children’s Committee, Burlington schoolchildren in Goldstein’s program at Memorial School and Francis Wyman School are experiencing the power and joy of music twice a month.
The Exceptional Children’s Fund was established in the 1970’s. Members of the Knights of Columbus formed the group to raise money to assist families with special needs children. Over the years, the committee has given away hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to needy families and programs in Burlington. This year, according to Committee Chair Charles McLean, the committee will provide $10,000 in services to some of Burlington’s most vulnerable citizens.
“The K of C has funded our summer program for five years,” said Goldstein. “This year we asked for more money to fund a program during the school year.”
The Exceptional Children’s Committee came through and Burlington Schools was able to hire a music therapist Laetitia Lutts twice a month from January through June.
According to Goldstein, the primary purpose of the program is to provide the simple enjoyment of music to the children.
“Music demands nothing of the listener,” explains Goldstein.
However, the program goes far beyond mere enjoyment, teaching children skills such as opposites (loud/soft, fast/slow), sharing and more.
“Some of our students cannot verbalize, but they can do things with instruments,” said Goldstein. “The instruments give them a voice.”
The Exceptional Children’s Committee raises funds for programs such as the music therapy program primarily through its annual golf tournament and through the donations of members. In the past, the committee has provided funding for adaptive tricycles, hearing aids, occupational and physical therapy sessions, special needs camps and more. The Committee mainly provides grants to Burlington based families or programs, but when possible, also helps individuals in surrounding communities.
The Burlington Knights of Columbus boasts 500 members but the Exceptional Children’s Committee is run by just five individuals who review applications and make recommendations to the full membership.
“We try to make sure that people have exhausted all other options such as insurance before we consider requests,” said McLean.
But when other options have failed, the Exceptional Children’s Committee provides a lifeline.
“This year, we were able to fund all the requests we received,” McLean said with pride.
Anyone interested in contributing to the Exceptional Children’s Fund can send donations to the Burlington Knights of Columbus, Exceptional Children’s Fund, P.O. Box 25, Burlington, MA 01803 to the attention of Charles McLean.