Music Breaks Down Walls at Atlanta Mission’s Men’s Shelter

It takes a great deal of coordination and work for Atlanta Mission to function effectively, including staff who love our clients, volunteers to take care of them by cooking meals and cleaning the facilities, and donors who make each of these things possible.

This past year we invited donors who have been on campus to take a tour of our facilities and really see what they are supporting. One of the men who decided to do this is Tom McGuire. Tom “wanted to get involved and understand what these men are going through”. While walking around the Choose Help area of The Shepherd’s Inn (our downtown overnight campus for men), he chatted with one of the staff about his life and hobbies. He told him about how he has played guitar for years and even taught his kids how to play. This staff member recognized an opportunity, and asked Tom if he would teach a guitar class for the men receiving services at The Shepherd’s Inn.

Tom said yes, and now every Tuesday morning, you can find him with a group of men, passing guitars around and learning the basics. Tom jokes that he has worked for years as a CPA and never would have imagined doing this, but that it has gone so well. Tom loved working with the guys so much that he bought five brand new guitars for the men to practice on. He even went back and bought a left-handed guitar to make sure that anyone could play.

Men practicing guitar at Atlanta MissionEach class has had some new faces and some familiar ones, with ages ranging from early twenties to men in their seventies. Tom is getting to know these men and says that he’s finding himself remembering their names and learning their stories. So far, they have learned a few basic chords, and Tom has even learned their favorite songs and found the sheet music for the men to learn. “Ultimately it’s not about playing guitar,” Tom says, “but making sure they know they are individuals who matter.”

The class is so special to Tom because he can call his students his friends. He says that he would never have had the opportunity to get to know these men if it wasn’t for this class. “Music is the great neutralizer,” he says. “Music breaks down walls and connects people.”

We are so thankful for Tom and the countless other dedicated volunteers who make our clients feel loved. We couldn’t continue to do this critical work without them. If you are interested in volunteering, click here.

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