What Brings The Family Back

Around 3rd grade, Lauren’s music teacher at her school recommended looking into The ICC’s Choral Festival, a week-long summer camp. Cassandra Porter, Lauren’s mother, didn’t think much of it. When Lauren’s music teacher at her church made the same recommendation, Cassandra had to investigate – her daughter clearly had a gift. Lauren participated in Choral Festival, where she combined her talents of singing and playing musical instruments. There, she fell in love with the ICC and begged to return.

Luckily she did return…but not without hesitation. Cassandra is a self proclaimed “helicopter mom.” She began volunteering with the ICC to keep an eye on her daughter, and because Lauren “would forget her head if it wasn’t attached”, Cassandra said with a laugh. She sincerely wanted to ensure that Lauren was spending time in a culturally diverse, respectful, and supportive environment. After extensive observation, Cassandra found the ICC to be one of the best run non-profit organizations – which is a great compliment, she said, after many years of working in child welfare.

During her hours spent volunteering, Cassandra learned to appreciate the administrative work that goes into artistic organizations. She’ll never forget the small but profound realization that someone manually punches holes in sheet music, it doesn’t just come like that. In time, Cassandra became the Vice President of the Parents Association Board. She enjoys the relationships, and how willing people are to hear her suggestions. That enjoyment is surpassed though, by watching her daughter perform and flourish in this choir.

Lauren has gained incredible confidence since joining the ICC. One of Cassandra’s proudest moments was watching Lauren perform a solo for the Governor at the State House. She couldn’t believe that a 4th grader could be so courageous. That’s her favorite part about being an ICC parent – watching her daughter experience things that most 12-year-olds don’t dream of. Lauren sang in Carnegie Hall last year, for example. Lauren’s favorite memories, on the other hand, are moments of friendship. The strong bonds that she has created on retreats, tours, and in rehearsals are friendships that will last long into adulthood. Cassandra recalls a time when Lauren was being bullied at school, and her grandmother took her to rehearsal. Her grandmother said that when they walked into rehearsal, Lauren’s eyes lit up and she began chatting with every person in the room.

“That is what makes the money and time worth it”, Cassandra said. Watching her daughter sing in Carnegie Hall was surreal, but watching her daughter be the happiest, most confident version of herself is what brings the family back each year.

 

by Emma Ahlert

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