The packages pile up daily outside Dorothy “Dot” Stansel and Charlie Hale’s Rochester home.
“It’s like Christmas,” Dot says as she plops one down on the living room couch.
Inside every box is a musical instrument that Charlie had won on some auction online.
“I bid vigorously on this one,” Charlie says as he pulls out a scuffed up saxophone.
Many of the instruments come needing a fix, which is the point.
A few years ago, at age 75, Dot took classes in band instrument repair and from there spent $2,000 on tools and set up a workshop in a spare bedroom.
She, with Charlie’s help, fixes up the instruments then donates them to the Rochester Education Foundation, or REF, which then passes them along to teachers in the Rochester City School District, who then hand them to kids who can’t afford to rent or buy an instrument of their own – kids like Marylynn Medina, a middle school student at East High.
I was really thankful for the clarinet,” Marylynn said after telling News 8 her previous clarinet literally fell apart while performing in a marching band parade. “I got a new opportunity to show my best and all that stuff and what I can do.”
Over the last 3 years the pair has donated around 800 instruments to students.
“It’s truly helped us to increase access for our students across the district. We couldn’t do what we do without Charlie and Dot,” said Alison Schmitt, lead teacher in the RCSD Arts Department.
Throughout the school year, Charlie and Dot will come to some of the concerts and talk with the kids playing their instruments.
They’ve even begun training teachers on how to perform their own fixes.
They do all of this together.
“It’s been something that we’ve both
enjoyed,” Dot said.