The Committee for Ethnic Affairs advises the Montgomery County, MD County Executive and County Council on public policy that relates to ethnic affairs; promotes maximum involvement of all ethnic groups in the County in government, business and community affairs.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hungry for Music, Montgomery Sister Cities join forces to support El Salvadoran youth

Hungry for Music and Montgomery County Sister Cities have joined to provide musical instruments for the youth of Morazan, El Salvador – the first sister city in a county program that hopes to expand to cities throughout the world. With the help of Hungry for Music, a Takoma Park-based charity that donates musical instruments to underserved children, the mission is to raise $2,500 to purchase instruments through a vendor in El Salvador and support a city youth development program and boost the local economy. The fundraising drive, which began July 1, will run through July 25.
“Montgomery County’s Sister Cities program will help to enrich our community by building relationships around the world to promote cultural, educational and economic development opportunities,” County Executive Ike Leggett said.
During a 2010 trip to Morazan, a Montgomery County Sister Cities delegation toured a newly built House of Culture community center in Perquin. The city’s mayor  asked the delegation for musical instruments to create an out-of-school music program. The delegation later decided this request was one they would fulfill first. Delegation member Bruce Adams, director of the county’s Office of Community Partnerships and founder of the Bethesda Big Train baseball team, had worked with Hungry for Music founder and director Jeff Campbell and turned to that charity, which has donated more than 5,000 instruments to youth across the United States and abroad. In this case, the instruments will be purchased in El Salvador, working with businesses there to supply and transport them.
You can support the campaign by buying a raffle ticket for a First Act electric guitar (valued at $2,000) at Bethesda Big Train games, Strathmore Summer Concert Series shows or Focus Music’s Rockville show July 12. Donations also can be made online at
Here is what a typical donation could buy for Perquin’s House of Culture: $20, cowbell/percussion; $75, acoustic guitar; $100, violin; $150, electric guitar, $200 electric bass.
During the last week in July, Leggett, former U.S. Rep. Connie Morella, Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez and County Council member George Leventhal are leading a 65-person delegation to return to Morazan, a rural department (the equivalent of a state) in eastern El Salvador, formalize the Sister City relationship. Funds for the musical instruments will be presented at that time.
The independent, nonprofit Montgomery County Sister Cities Inc., chaired by former Town of Chevy Chase mayor Bill Hudnut, was established to connect the county to the world by encouraging and fostering friendship, partnership and mutual cooperation through educational, cultural, social, economic, humanitarian and charitable exchanges. Morazan was chosen in part because El Salvador is the number one country of origin of Montgomery County’s immigrant population. Beit Shemesh, Israel, will become the county’s second sister city in the fall of 2011.
Sister Cities’ objectives include encouraging the people of Montgomery County and those of similar communities in other nations to acquire information about each other and to understand one another as individuals, as members of their community, as citizens of their country, and as part of the family of nations. It also hopes to foster a continuing relationship of mutual concern between Montgomery County residents and the people of similar communities in other nations. The Sister Cities group also plans to participate as an organization in the fostering and publicizing of local, state and national programs of international cooperation.
Hungry for Music, founded in 1994, donated a single-year record 512 instruments in 2010, including about 50 in Montgomery County. Says Campbell: "Most anyone will attest to the healing power of music; its ability to soothe in times of tension, its ability to transform sadness and aggression into hope and creativity."
For more information, see the Sister Cities website,
You can contact Bruce Adams at the Office of Community Partnerships in Rockville, 240-777-2558, or by email at
Jeff Campbell is available for interviews at 202-674-3000 or via email at
 Venue websites:,,

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