Over Christmas in 1991, Tim and Jane McHale went caroling in nursing homes and hospitals. They had a blast. The joy generated by sharing beloved songs gave them an idea.
Construction engineer and executive coach by day, the couple decided to use their musical talents in their spare time to reach people who were otherwise isolated year-round. They worked up a repertoire of familiar tunes designed to engage and encourage and enlisted other music lovers to join them in visiting shelters, prisons, and other facilities. They called themselves “The Boston Minstrels” in the tradition of traveling troubadours.
The joy increased and The Boston Minstrels has evolved into a non-profit organization with a roster of volunteers from a wide range of life experiences, including some who first met The Minstrels when they were residents of shelters. The schedule of performances and programs per year includes annual returns to venues with whom the group has sustained long-term relationships.
How can you mend a broken heart?
From the beginning, The Boston Minstrels has fostered a mutually inspiring environment of community spirit. A gig is never musicians on one side of the microphone and a passive audience on the other, but the building of a “musical bridge” between the homeless, infirm, or imprisoned and the “rest of us.” A prisoner becomes a soloist to the delight of her peers. A homeless person recalls the words to a song and becomes part of the choir. A Minstrel is moved to tears. Dancing breaks out among everybody. Everyone contributes to the making of a positive memory. Everyone matters.