Last summer in Dallas, I met a remarkable mother and daughter pair of social entrepreneurs. While each heads in her own direction, both are having an impact.
Hannah Kerchner is a high school student who recognized the difficulty some students had in acquiring a band instrument and that many who were interested couldn’t join simply for lack of a few hundred dollars to buy or rent one.
Hannah says, “Around the United States there have been an increasing number of budget cuts in schools and an increasing number of low income families. Due to these cuts music programs have been cut of their funds sometimes completely. Student’s aren’t having the opportunity to be in band any more.”
Hannah launched Hannah’s Musical Hope to provide students with instruments. She explains, “To make sure every student has the opportunity to be in band Hannah’s Musical Hope provides instruments to low income students and schools. We take old instruments collecting dust in people’s attics, garages, or houses, refurbish them then donate them.”
Hannah’s impact goes beyond music. “Everything is run by high school students so that students also have the opportunity to make an impact in their community,” she notes.
Hannah says the biggest challenge she faces is in raising money. “The biggest challenge we face is fundraising. We have instruments, and we have people who need instruments but we don’t have the money to fix the instruments or grow the business.” She is running a crowdfunding campaign at Indiegogo’s Generosity, but hasn’t made much progress.
Sadly, Hannah acknowledges that sometimes instruments aren’t the only thing preventing a school from running a band program. “If a school is trying to cut out their music program completely we can give them all the donations and instruments they need but if there is no support in the community or willingness by the school board then the music program will still be lost.”
Hannah remain optimistic. “If we are able to give all low income students and schools what they need then all students will have an equal opportunity to a full education. Music is really important in schools and has been proved to increase test scores and helps students learn better. If Hannah’s Musical Hope is successful, a happier, healthier, more responsible, and smarter society will be created.”
Hannah’s mother, Angela”Angie” Kerchner, MD, is a medical doctor who is launching a practice in holistic medicine that combines the best of traditional and alternative medicine she calls the Avalo Center for Integrative Health & Wellness.
She says doing medical school and residency with a young family wasn’t easy. “Without the strength and support of my family, I would not be where I am today.”
She quickly became disillusioned with the practice of medicine.
Angie says, “When I reached the end of my training, I realized there were limitations on my ability to care for patients the way I felt they wanted and deserved. Once I realized all that I had worked for was not what I had envisioned when I chose to become a doctor, I knew I had to push further, find a way to help physicians like myself practice medicine in a way that felt like we were really making a difference in the health of our communities.”
She explains the pressure she felt, saying, “The mainstream medical industry was pushing hard for me to enter a practice where I knew I would feel that I was cheated and would be cheating my patients. I couldn’t do it. I knew I needed to find another way to make a difference. That was how the plans for Avalo were born.”
Moving forward and overcoming her fears presented a big challenge, she says. “The biggest challenge to overcome was myself. Finding the courage to leave the safe space of fitting in with the conventional healthcare system and following the path that my heart led me toward was the hardest part of this journey. When my father passed away from cancer earlier this year, I finally knew I had no choice but to forge ahead. Settling for living and working within the confines of artificial boundaries is simply not option for me.”
Angie is no quitter. “I have overcome a lot of challenges in my life, and this one is no different. I simply refuse to give up until I know I have done absolutely everything in my power to conquer any hurdles that may lie ahead.”
Angie finds strength and motivation from her patients. “More than anyone or anything else, it is my patients that have given me the constant reminder that change is not only needed, but imperative. The interactions I have with the faces and stories of complete strangers are what truly keep me on the path toward making a difference. I won’t give up on Avalo, because doing so would be giving up on those patients.”
On Wednesday, October 26, 2016 at 4:00 Eastern, Hannah and Angie will join me for a live discussion about their remarkable efforts to make the world better in their own ways. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about Hannah’s Musical Hope:
Hannah’s Musical Hope is focused on Keeping the Music playing. With large budget cuts in schools and an increasing number of low income families music programs are dying and student’s don’t have the opportunity to be in band. To solve the increasing problem we take used musical instruments, refurbish them, then donate them to low income students and schools. Hannah’s Musical Hope is a certified 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 2015. Everything is run by high school students so they can learn leadership, responsibility, how to run a business, and help their community.
More about the Avalo Center for Integrative Health & Wellness:
Avalo Center for Integrative Health & Wellness, Inc, is a start-up company working to solve some of the major issues plaguing healthcare in the U.S., including high cost and poor outcomes. We are working to fully integrate conventional family medicine together with holistic, preventive, healing and wellness practices under one roof so that patients can get well and stay well. We are doing this under a unique business model that we believe can lower healthcare costs for patients and companies, will provide for a strong relationship between patients & their doctors, and provide more access to personal care. Avalo is focused on making sure that the major stakeholders in health – patients & their physicians – are able to work together to meet health goals without barriers.
Hannah Kerchner is a high school student from Iowa. When she first joined the band in the 6th grade, Hannah played trumpet, which allowed her to learn with the same instrument her dad had received when he was in high school. A 3rd generation trumpet player, she instantly fell in love with both the instrument and music.
By the time she reached high school, Hannah had become more involved in band activities. Music had become an important part of her life. In her own words, band was more than a class or a hobby, “the members of the band are my friends, my team, and my family.” She also recognized that participation in band was what had kept her most interested in school. Hannah loves to learn. Unlike other classes, where an assignment is completed, playing trumpet gives Hannah a perpetual challenge. She can always take learning to a new level. For someone who loves to learn the way she does, band was the perfect class.
Hannah began to realize that some of her friends were not in band because of the cost. She then found out that schools had cut fine arts programs completely due to shrinking educational budgets, and many others (including her own school) were struggling. Some students were unable to take part in band due to the high cost of instruments, and dwindling music education budgets meant school rentals were also becoming more difficult than in the past. Knowing how much music had helped her do well in school and find her niche, she wanted to do something to help.
In May of 2015, Hannah attended an entrepreneurial conference. It was there that she learned how to start a business, and that no matter age or circumstances, everyone in the U.S. has the same opportunity. While at the conference, Hannah received an incredible amount of encouragement to follow her heart and live her dream.
Within a few months, Hannah was able to begin to see her goal become reality. Hannah’s Musical Hope was officially incorporated in her home state of Iowa in mid-2015. By August, instrument donations began to come in, and by late fall, Hannah completed the necessary steps to file for her non-profit organization status. It was a lot of work, but she kept working at it, refusing to give up on her goal.
Fundraisers and t-shirt sales helped pay the legal fees to send in the paperwork. Then, in July 2016, Hannah received official notice from the IRS that Hannah’s Musical Hope was officially granted 501(c)3 non-profit status.
Hannah is looking forward to continuing to grow Hannah’s Musical Hope to help her own community and others, as well. She & the team also hope to develop HMH chapters in other school districts so that other kids can learn about how to run a business, become leaders in their communities, and to see and hear the difference kids can make if they set their goals high.
Hannah is involved in West Branch High’s marching, concert, and jazz bands, and also enjoys playing in the band for Christopher Jive & The Uptown 45 Show Choir. In 2016, the show choir band, dubbed, “Nick & the Lemon Heads,” won Best Band Awards at three of their competitions. Hannah also participates in drama, works a part-time job in addition to running Hannah’s Musical Hope, and enjoys time with her family, friends, and her dog, Sirius. Keep an eye out for her upcoming first book, which is scheduled to be published later this year.
Angela Kerchner M.D. is board certified in both family medicine and integrative holistic medicine. She is Founder & President of Avalo Center for Integrative Health and Wellness, Inc. After attending the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine, she completed her residency in family medicine at the University of Iowa’s Genesis Quad Cities Family Medicine Residency Program in Davenport, Iowa, leading to diplomacy from the American Board of Family Medicine. After residency Dr. Kerchner earned additional board certification through the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine. In addition to her professional pursuits, Dr. Kerchner has been working on medical missions and education efforts in Haiti since the earthquake shook the nation in 2010. At home, while working extensively as an emergency room physician in underserved communities, Dr. Kerchner recognized the challenges that face both patients and physicians in the current healthcare system. Realizing the need for alternative practice models, she began attending business conferences to increase skills in entrepreneurship, leadership, and business communication leading up to the development of the plans for Avalo Canters. Outside of her professional life, Dr. Kerchner is married and is mom to three children, three dogs, and three cats. She enjoys art, literature, and travel. The family lives on a small farm in Iowa.
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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!