The Bridge Music Project and the Greene Realty Group Support Youth Songwriting and Personal Growth

Victoria Standoak playing a guitar with The Bridge Music Project
Participants get to see their efforts come to fruition when working with professional audio recording engineers and performing for an audience in a concert at the end of eight weeks. Pictured here: Victoria Standoak. Photo credit: Alexandra Laur
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Greene Realty Group and The Bridge Music Project (Bridge) have developed a relationship through their mutual interest in lifting up the community. The Bridge Music Project provides youth with space and mentorship for songwriting, both personal and interpersonal growth and musical expression. For many years running, Greene Realty has been an ardent supporter of The Bridge Music Project, and their latest collaboration together is an inspiring and enlightening video about the music recording workshops created for youth, 14-20 years old.

Founder and Executive Director Bobby Williams began The Bridge Music Project while working with at risk youth who were in foster care. Williams started hosting songwriting workshops and noticed that the youth used lyrics as a way of processing traumatic experiences.

The Greene-Bridge connection began in the early days of the program through Williams’s friendship with Greene Realty agent Matt Guile. The two paired up for a fundraising effort. Guile’s involvement developed into serving as a Bridge board member advising on financing and budgeting as treasurer. Giving support for community programs is part of what Greene Realty does. Greene realtors and staff each participate by contributing to the Greene Giving Fund, and they raise $10,000 to $12,000 annually.

Partnered with The Community Foundation, a committee apportions Greene Realty funds to children’s, housing and military nonprofits and charities. Guile and Greene Realty have supported numerous Bridge projects in the past, and the YouTube video highlighting the project puts faces and music where the public can see what is happening at The Bridge Music Project.

The Bridge Music Project Workshops

Workshops are held in locations accessible to youth and where some may need them the most. One program is the Grays Harbor Community Songwriting Workshop for youth who are serving a sentence in a detention center. Another is held at Marshall Middle School, and the Thurston County Workshop is held at Capitol Theater.

In downtown Olympia, The Bridge Music Project has a yearly concert series for the public and open mic nights for youth who are experiencing homelessness.

Most recently, they have been working with Greene Hill School in Chehalis for youth who are incarcerated.

Eli Utter singing a song with The Bridge Music Project
At The Bridge Music Project, musical expression spans the genres with singing, rapping and playing instruments. Pictured here: Eli Utter. Photo credit: Andrew Repcik

Musical expressions span the genres with singing, rapping and playing instruments. However, while music is the vehicle, being creative amongst their peers and learning to collaborate as team players are important steps in the eight-week workshop.

“Each workshop begins with a community contract,” Williams says, “and the question they are answering is, ‘What do I need to feel supported and be successful in the group?’ We talk about constructive criticism, being dedicated and being original with your ideas. The community contract is the foundation of why the workshops work because if it is not an environment that can be supportive and creative and also be accountable, then it’s not going to work.” Payoff is big. Participants get to see their efforts come to fruition when working with professional audio recording engineers and performing for an audience in a concert at the end of eight weeks.

Participation is electrifying. Shy young people find a safe place in which they can use their voice, and youth can find a place to channel energy and creativity within a collaborative group. Collaborative songwriting, practicing together and providing feedback are valuable life skills, necessary for successful interaction in the adult world. And participation is not just a one-time gig. Many return again and again, sometimes in the role of mentors themselves.

“Our greater mission is helping youth who have been through trauma to process it,” Williams says. “We’re building support around youth in the community. Through doing the workshop, they are seeing a direct impact of ‘I worked hard on this song. I was able to record it. I practiced it, and I was able to perform it.’ It teaches them you can have an impact on your life and your future. They get life skills from it like collaboration, teamwork and following through on a project when it is hard.”

Greene Realty Gives to The Bridge Music Project in More Than One Way

PJ Stengel singing with The Bridge Music Project
Collaborative songwriting, practicing together and providing feedback are valuable life skills. Many youth return to workshops again and again, sometimes in the role of a mentors themselves. Pictured here: PJ Stengel. Photo credit: Andrew Repcik

Publicity and funding are important, but momentum also comes from people giving time. Greene Realty provides that by networking and spreading the word about The Bridge Music Project. Public participation and involvement have grown the program. The Bridge trains mentors in its mentorship program, and volunteers who can share their basic musical knowledge are valuable contributors as well.

“We’re a nonprofit organization,” Williams says, “but we are also a community that consists of the youth, their family, their friends, their supporters and our community partners like Greene Realty. We think of them as part of our Bridge community. They are part of the lifeblood that keeps the organization going. We wouldn’t be able to do it without support from groups like Greene Realty. It makes a huge difference in making the work possible.”

The relationship between The Bridge Music Project and Greene Realty allows each entity to grow the community. The workshop program helps youth heal, grow and feel more capable and comfortable with planning their adult lives. The youth that Williams works with are the future adults who will, in turn, live in, work in and give back in Olympia and greater Thurston County. Guiles and Greene Realty support the safe space that youth need for that growth.

If you know a youth who could benefit from The Bridge Music Project, check out The Bridge Music Project website for more information.

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