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Music Kitchen offers homeless shelters classical music this Christmas season

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The homeless are celebrating the Christmas and New Year’s holidays in shelters with classical music from some of the top musicians in the country thanks to well-known Violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins, New York.

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When she's not touring the world, you can find Tompkins and fellow musicians playing at a soup kitchen near you.

“I bring top artists and the power of music in performances into New York City Homeless Shelters,” said Thompkins on a recent visit to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), where she met with Director Jeanette Rowe, LAHSA Emergency Response Team.

“She ask if she could stop by and tour our homeless shelters and right before we did Tompkins played her violin,” said Rowe. “We were totally blown away. Her music is just beautiful and we’re discussing ways that she could bring her music and magic to Los Angeles. The homeless will love her in LA like they do in New York.”

Thompkins was only nine when she fell in love with music in public schools in South Carolina and never look back. She is one of New York’s most sought after violinists not just for performances in concert halls, but in homeless shelters where she felt her calling and most memorable times over the years.

Thompson founded Music Kitchen – Food for the Soul, a 501C nonprofit in 2005. “It is designed to bring top music artists and classical chamber music to homeless shelters in New York City,” she said. “We are entering the eighth year of the program, which has presented 66 concerts with more than 100 top artists in New York and have reached more than 10,000 homeless people.”

The Music Kitchen allows for many of the less fortunate to hear some of the finest classical, chamber music in New York.

“I was performing solo concerts with orchestra and wanted a play to run through the repertoire for college and friends,” explained Thompkins. “But they were not available at the time. So by chance I got the opportunity to play for my church’s homeless shelter program, where I was a volunteer cook. It was so successful in that moment; I realized that it needed a proper compliment of artists and chamber music to create the program. A year later I started the Music Kitchen.”

Thompkins said she’s been engaging my colleagues and the impact on the homeless at the shelters has been tremendous. “My grandmother, who’s 89 years old, has been feeding the homeless on a weekly or monthly basis for about 20 years now. I’ve always been very passionate about giving back to the community,” she said.

Thompkins noted that she loved classical music and fell in love with it when she was nine. “I knew that if music could impact me so much, it would also impact other people. I love bringing new people into the classical music experience and I love to share classical music with people who already love it,” she said. “I love chamber music, because it’s an interactive, musical art and I think it’s a wonderful vehicle to bring to homeless shelters.”

For the last eight years, Tompkins has been entertain and performed before more than 7,000 homeless people. Funding is provided by private donors and The Ella Lyman Cabot Trust and the Black Family Foundation.

“It’s a joy to watch how this project continues to be incredibly rewarding for both shelter clients and artists alike,” said Tompkins. “Music Kitchen presents some of the greatest works of classical chamber music and also Jazz.”

Tompkins believes that powerful music should be accessible to all, regardless of economic circumstances and she’s orchestrating the best illustration on how to do it.

According to the Coalition for the Homeless, each night as many as 60,000 people -- including more than 22,000 children -- experience homelessness. Currently 52,400 homeless men, women, and children bed down each night in the NYC municipal shelter system. In Los Angeles County, a recent count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority shows there are 57,700+ men, women and children who have nowhere to call home on any given night. There are only 4,059 emergency shelter beds. The LAHSA Winter Shelter program started on December 1st and half dozen shelters that were set to open on Dec. 15th opened early due to a cold snap in Los Angeles.

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