Stacey Rhodes is on a mission to raise the standard of living in southeastern Illinois counties with music.
To achieve this goal, she founded Tri-Music, a non-profit organization. The organization achieved 501c3 status in April 2018.
Stacey is a music therapist who, for fifteen years, has used music to work with teens and people with unique needs and circumstances, including teens and people with autism, anxiety, depression, and teens.
“I’ve seen how music can help you achieve goals. I’ve always known that music can affect change,” Stacey said.
Originally from Clay County, Stacey spent ten years in the Chicago suburbs. She returned to Flora nearly five years ago. The experience of moving away provided Stacey with a real life perspective on the stark contrast in southern Illinois communities compared to suburban communities in Chicago.
She said, “You can really tell in our rural areas how much the standard of living could be increased, through vitalizing downtown areas, improving education … We don’t have a lot of mental health resources … Being a music therapist, I see problems and how to solve them with music.”
Among one of Stacey’s biggest concerns is the number of kids struggling with depression and anxiety. Tri-Music has created a solution to offset those numbers by creating music therapy groups, one of which is called, “Band of Women.”
Stacey said, “It’s been a great opportunity to get together to provide a music group, learn, and for kids to start talking about what’s happening with them. Many parents feel talk therapy is ineffective because many kids don’t want to talk. (In the music group) they really start expressing what’s going on with them. They start opening up, connecting, and bonding.”
Through this opening of communication, the Tri-Music team and parents have gained a clearer understanding as to the hidden inner struggles of the kids. This has helped identify resources needed to aid the kids in navigating through the challenges and towards freedom.
As a rural native attending music school in the Chicago area, Stacey noticed she was behind in her skill sets compared to music students from the suburbs. Now, returned to southern Illinois, she is working with Olney Central College Director of Bands, Wade Baker, to bring additional education and skill sets to kids in local music programs.
“So they won’t be behind when they go to college,” Stacey said.
The Tri-Music mission doesn’t stop there. This summer, the organization is delivering a life skills program called, “Music for Life” at Olney Central College. The program is designed to assist young people with making healthy connections and managing hard emotions and stress through mindfulness.
The program will be delivered to first generation college bound kids.
Stacey said, “They are already adults, out working jobs, we’re just giving them some extra skills to succeed.”
Tri-Music also launched the “Music Mentor” program this summer, which connects working musicians with people in the community who want to learn an instrument.
Tri-Music programming is currently offered on Mondays in Flora at Johnny and June’s, on Tuesdays in Olney at OCC, and Wednesdays in Effingham at The Smart Training Facility of J&J Ventures.
Stacey said, “We are actively looking for a space in Flora to be our main headquarters, but we will also partnering with churches, businesses or schools to bring our music mentor and music therapy programs into Richland and Effingham counties.”
Tri-Music has been well received by communities thus far. Being a new non-profit, Stacey says, means that they have few financial resources, and must keep their costs very low.
Stacey said, “We are able to use spaces that are incredibly nice and fitting for our projects … these spaces were just sitting empty, and the owners really liked the idea of having someone in it, especially an organization that was giving back to the community. On a personal note, it has been fun to see the employees of these places get to experience music as they are seeing our students come in and out, and even hearing them play! It is bringing a smile to everyone's face.”
To inquire with Tri-Music about contributing, supporting, or getting involved with their mission, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 217-993-9500
For more information, visit www.tri-music.org, and like the Facebook page.