Jenny Van West, the Portland musician putting instruments in the hands of struggling new Mainers, said she has been overwhelmed with the response to a recent blog post here at Bennett There Done That.
As a result, she was able to get instruments for everyone on her waiting list in just two days.
“OK, I think that some rocks just got moved,” Van West said over the phone on Sunday morning, talking about the momentum she feels building for her one-woman project.
Van West finds guitars, keyboards and the like for Portland’s newest immigrants, many of whom are waiting to be granted asylum and are barred from looking for work by law.
[If you haven’t read the original post, go read it now.]
“A lot of people shared that story,” she said.
As of this morning, the August 2 BDN Portland Facebook post had reached 40,723 people. It had been shared 232 times and the video had over 16,000 views.
Van West wrote in a Facebook post over the weekend:
“The encouragement alone has been amazing, but it has directly generated some of the things we were after!
Yesterday, I received a gorgeous donated mandolin with case and new strings and electronic tuner, and have received promises of two guitars, an extra case, an electric keyboard, for which we’ve yet to arrange transport, and the offer of time and resources of a luthier in Maine to assist with any unexpected repairs.
Today, two more beautiful guitars showed up on my doorstep from a friend in VT, that will have very minor issues addressed free of charge by said luthier in Jefferson.”
She was also contacted by someone in Kentucky asking for advice on setting up a similar program there.
Plus, a young immigrant in Maryland sent her a message asking if she might be able help him, too.
“It’s 600 miles away,” she wrote online, “but I’m working my contacts down there to see what can be done.”
Though the immediate needs on her list have been fulfilled, that doesn’t mean everyone who needs an instrument in town has got one just yet. Van West is still interested in donations.
If you have a guitar you’d like to add to the cause, she just asks that it have a case, new strings and be in good playing condition.
“Just make sure my gratitude is extremely evident,” she told me on the phone.
Despite the multiple Facebook and personal congratulations she’s received this week for her work, Van West still thinks she’s getting as much out of the deal as her recipients.
One woman thanked her for “saving them.”
“Whoa! They’re saving me,” she said.
Jenny Van West can be contacted through her website jennyvanwestmusic.com.