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Kids And Education  

Aspiring pianist finds time to help

Thursday, May 25, 2006 2:36 PM CDT

An aspiring pianist, Chris Scherna spends much of his time during the summer working with Jazz for Peace, a non-profit organization that performs benefit concerts for other groups in need of funding. Scherna’s role it to find the local organizations that the concerts raise money for.


Unlike most kids his age, Chris Scherna’s ears don’t perk up at the sounds of rock bands like Maroon 5 or hip-hop artists such as 50 Cent. For him, it is Oscar Peterson, a renowned Canadian jazz pianist that sets his toes a tapping.

A junior with a 91.5 average at Townsend Harris High School in Flushing, Scherna spends his spare time uniting the world through jazz. A pianist, Scherna hails from a long line of musicians; his grandfather, Frank Hays, was a jazz pianist and his uncle, Kevin Hays, is a well-known pianist in Europe.

Given this family background, Scherna was destined to discover Jazz for Peace, a non-profit organization that performs benefit concerts to help raise funds for fellow non-profit organizations, while he was searching for volunteer extracurricular activities to impress admissions counselors for college. Scherna doesn’t take part in the actual concerts. His role is to find the local organizations in need of funding that the concerts raise money for.

“I’m proud to be able to say that I’m doing meaningful volunteer work and that I’m giving back to the community directly,” he said. “I enjoy doing it. It’s cool being able to go to concerts that you helped organize.”

Founded by Rick DellaRatta in 2001, Jazz for Peace had an impressive debut; DellaRatta led an ensemble comprised of Israelis, Palestinians, Asians, and European jazz musicians at the United Nations.
DellaRatta has been especially impressed with Scherna. “Chris stands apart as a lot of young people don’t understand the importance of our country’s greatest art form - jazz,” he said.

Driven to experience all the world has to offer, Scherna’s exceptional academic record has garnered him invitations to several International Conferences and Summits.

When he was 14 years of age, Scherna went to the United Peace Summit- International Day of Peace. Thirty kids from all over the globe - including students from France, Israel, and Japan - met to learn and discuss various international issues and dilemmas.

It was there that Scherna discovered that despite differences in religion and cultures people “have one goal and that is to come together.”

Recently Scherna, a Holliswood resident, returned from two-and-a-half weeks in Ankara, Turkey. He was one of six kids chosen at Townsend Harris for the Linking Individuals, Knowledge, & Culture (LINC) Program sponsored by the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Department to encourage understanding between different cultures and countries.

“Amazing,” Scherna said of the trip overseas. “I knew nothing about Turkey. I only knew that it was 99% Muslim and it borders Iraq, Iran, and Syria.”

He was struck by how modern Istanbul is. He did not expect to see commercial strips like those in the New York City metropolitan area, “though they were much quieter, and not as busy,” he noted.

Scherna was surprised to discover that Turkey was a democracy - separated by church and state. Relying on images in the American media, he expected it to be a very religious country ruled by Muslim theology.

Considering his myriad experiences thus far, it is no wonder that Scherna’s future aspirations are just as broad. He is uncertain but is considering a career in physics, chemistry, or politics. As it stands, Scherna is already a musician, world traveler, and peacemaker and he has not even graduated yet.

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Volunteer Opportunities

A wide possibility of volunteer work is available to choose from such as:

         1- Coordinating your own Jazz for Peace benefit concert to raise funds, publicity and awareness for your favorite charity.  

  •  2-Event Coordinating
  •  3-Assistant to Event Coordinator.

         4-Publicity and Promotion of existing Jazz For Peace™ concerts and events.

      5-Grant Writing 

          6-Soliciting Donations for our musical instrument donation program

          7-Soliciting Donations for our benefit concert series

          8- Educations Series - Event Coordinating for our Music in the Schools Education Series

If you are interested in this timely and deserving service I think it would be a good idea to talk by phone to discuss the type of volunteer work that would best fit your interests.  Please let me know when would be best for us to speak. Hope to hear from you soon.    Call us at 212-947-1104 or Email us

Below please find some opportunities currently available on Volunteer Match.......