Teresa Miles, Allen Gatchell,
B.J. Butler, Maria Seelman

If you are not familiar with the Hacienda Girls’ Ranch, they provide a transitional home for girls for after they have aged out of the foster care system. As this young lady is under protective custody, we are unable to release her name or her photo.

This past week, I had the opportunity to witness the magic of Christmas right here in our community.

First, I must start at the beginning…a few weeks ago, we were discussing broadening our community outreach programs by partnering with local service organizations focusing on at-risk children and teens.   At that very moment, our door chimed and in walks Maria Seelman, volunteer extraordinaire for the Children’s Home Society.  She happened to stop by with a special request.   All the children at the home had asked for a few items, however, one special young lady at the Hacienda Girls’ Ranch had requested one thing for Christmas this year:  a cello.

Second, I must add, that I have always wanted to learn how to play the cello.  However, when I asked for one as a child, my father brought home an alto-sax…but that’s another tale…

Back to this story…

Unfortunately for us, the BSO had no cello to donate, and as a 501c-3 could not use our funds to purchase a cello to donate.  However, we made it our mission to help this aspiring musician receive her Christmas wish.  We began sending out emails, making phone calls, and posting to our social media network such as Facebook and Twitter.  We hoped that through our vast network of musicians, friends and fans, something could be done.

On Saturday, December 22nd, we heard the greatest news…Atlantic Strings was going to donate a cello!   A bit of luck was on our side as our very own B.J. Butler was also this young girl’s teacher.  B.J. made the call to Atlantic Strings and told owner Allen Gatchell of the request.  Overwhelmingly, Allen agreed and was delighted to donate the cello.

On Monday the 23rd, we all gathered at Atlantic Strings to pick up the cello.  The Children’s Home Society presented Atlantic Strings with a certificate of appreciation.   After a few purchases of a music stand, gift certificate and other goodies, we were ready to present a most splendid surprise, which also included BSO concert tickets.

We drove to the Girls’ Ranch and our smiles could not be broader.   We waited just outside and as she rounded the corner the look on her face was priceless.  Surprise, glee, happiness and bewilderment spread across the young lady’s face.  At first, she could not believe what she was seeing.  She never thought she would ever receive her wish.  Tears streamed across all our faces.  It was the best Christmas gift she had ever received, she said.

However, I must admit to a bit of selfishness…because seeing her face was the best Christmas gift that we had ever received.

Many thanks to B.J. for making the phone call….and to Allen and Atlantic Strings:  we are so grateful for this most generous of gifts.  Make sure to send Atlantic Strings a “Like” or post a comment on their Facebook page as a special thanks! 


7026_1235858972573_8286130_nLesmarie Velez is the Marketing Director of the Brevard Symphony Orchestra.  One husband, two dogs, and three awesome lightsabers.  Ex-army brat and Graduate of Florida State University, with not one…but, two degrees.  Enjoys reading Jane Eyre, Pride & Prejudice, and Lord of the Rings.  On a rainy day likes to curl up on the couch with a chai latte and watches one, or more, of the following: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Star Wars Trilogy, Willow, Rebecca, Pollyanna, Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music.  The next song queued on her ipod is Africa by Toto.  Prefers tea over coffee, any day.  When it begins to snow on the ski slopes…calls in sick.