Space Coast Jazz Society jazzes it up at Devereux


Robert Comer, left, Gigi Gordon and Dorothy Holley of the Space Coast Jazz Society work with Devereux's Shelaine Corey-Williamson to bring music to the children at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health.


Volunteers from the Space Coast Jazz Society are bringing music to the children at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, an intensive residential treatment facility for children who have had a tough time in life, despite their young age.

“In a lot of cases, these children have been abused, neglected or traumatized,” said Patricia Hurst, donor relations manager at Devereux in Viera.

Among the 132 residents, ranging in age from 5 to 18, are also girls who have been saved from human trafficking.

“They have some serious emotional issues,” Hurst said.

Devereux, one of Florida’s most comprehensive child welfare and behavioral healthcare organizations, serves children with mental health, intellectual or developmental disabilities and behavioral health challenges. Approximately two-thirds of the current student body are of middle or high school age. More than half are from Florida, but many out-of-state students are referred to Devereux because many states do not have this type of program. The typical length of stay is nine months to a year and a half.

The new music program will offer an additional avenue of communication with the children.

“Our kids typically don’t get exposed to music, so for the Space Coast Jazz Society volunteers to give of their time and talent for these children is amazing,” Hurst said.

Devereux Music’s therapeutic benefits will now be part of these youngsters’ lives, as Society volunteers introduce them to music theory and the technical aspects of the art through biweekly sessions.

“Learning to play an instrument builds self-esteem and studies show that music heals,” said Dorothy Holley, the Space Coast Jazz Society student music workshop director.

The Devereux initiative is part of the Society’s community outreach music program.

“We also provide free music workshops on Saturdays for students in grades 4 to 12 at the Foosaner Art Museum,” Holley added.

The Space Coast Jazz Society is perhaps best known for its monthly jazz concerts at Rockledge Country Club.

The Devereux students are currently working to master the keyboard, but the Jazz Society would like to add to the variety of instruments introduced, with the aim of eventually forming an ensemble. The local nonprofit, Acoustics for a Change, will provide additional instruments, but more donations of woodwind, brass or string instruments are needed.

“If you have a musical instrument not being played, we would appreciate your donating it to the school so we can give a student an opportunity to learn to play it,” Holley said.

To donate musical instruments, contact Devereux activity coordinator Shelaine Cory Williamson at 321-242-9100.