Early in 2007, Rev. Crystal told my wife, Rita, and I about the Gifford Youth Orchestra and its financial needs.  I asked her to give me information about the group so I could share with one of the our church.  I then passed it on to the then president of the Fellowship, the late Ed Krygeris and it was passed on to the Endowment Committee.  Months later, the Endowment Committee of the Universalist Unitarian Fellowship of Vero Beach made this historic gift of $2000 to the Gifford Youth Orchestra.  It was historic because a grant from the UU Endowment Fund had never been given to an outside-the-church organization.  It was this gift that laid the foundation for other grants from the Universalist Unitarian Fellowship of Vero Beach to make other donations to the Gifford Youth Orchestra, and subsequently to other worthy causes in Indian River County.  Rev. Crystal asked us to be in this photo for our support in the manifestation of this gift.  We had no idea we would end up on the Internet, but here we are.


The next month I wrote this piece in the UU Monthly Newsletter: 

August 2007

Social Justice Bits & Pieces


The Social  Justice Committee reminds all that the congregational surveys will be counted at the end of August.  If you have not done so please return the surveys to the office or send an e-mail to with your three selections.  You do not have to sign the survey nor identify yourself.

      Rev. Crystal Bujol has written the Social Justice Committee and the Endowment Committee thanking us for the $2,000 donation to the Gifford Youth Orchestra.  The congregation was mentioned in their newsletter.

Community Church of Vero Beach is pleased to participate in supporting the Gifford Youth Orchestra because we encourage the youth of our community and actively support outstanding music programs.  GYO is an excellent combination of both


With continued encouragement.



Bob Lawtonm

Director of Missions Ministry

Community Church of Vero Beach

Hi Crystal,


... the reasons Rock and I have made a donations to the Gifford Youth Orchestra...


First of all, we have been so impressed with your obviously very sincere enthusiasm for and devotion/dedication to this project and to the children.  You are a compelling advocate!


The benefits of this program for the children, as we see it, are:


Learning a skill, and one that they can use for many years, not only for their pleasure, but for the pleasure of others.


Experiencing the discipline of practice and hard work, and learning the value of it.


Experiencing pride in a skill mastered.


Achieving a goal, which results in a confidence as they face other challenges in life.


Having a constructive activity outside of school----keeps them busy and mentally challenged, not just watching TV, etc.


Being part of a team/group, where their individual effort matters.


Parental pride in their children, and the happiness the children feel as a result of this pride in them.


This experience is life-changing for some of these students, propelling them into a positive future, giving them hope, confidence and pride.


Whatever happens, these children will never forget this experience, nor will they ever forget you,

Crystal!  This is a wonderful program, don't give up!!


Best wishes,


Kathy and Rock Tonkel

Dear Crystal,


Nick and I first learned about your Gifford Youth Orchestra in 2009 when we came to a program at the Gifford Youth Activity Center.  We were so impressed at the devotion and dedication of these young people whose ages ranged from grade school to high school.  Their concert was a beautiful performance, but it was even more meaningful considering that none of these children had prior exposure to this type of music.  The motto of "more violins, less violence" is so true.  When young people have an inspiration and purpose in life, there is less time for idleness which leads to boredom and trouble.  


Sukesha Crossdale certainly has been a success story!  The fact that she is going to college, keeping her grades up, performing in concerts, learning to be independent and, yet, she still returns to Gifford to teach and inspire the younger students is a credit to the benefit which she received from the program.


We are pleased to support such a success story in the hope that others will be able to receive these same benefits.  Positive experiences cultivate more positive
experiences .


With our best wishes to you for continued success.




Liz Melnick



First of all Judi and I understand that children from lower income famlies may not
have the opportunities for or the family enviroment that promotes curtural appreciation of the arts and music. We believe it is a benefit to all concerned for the kids to have an opportunity to read and play music and to have a strong leader who they can look up to. We do not give because the program may keep kids off the streets, but the fact is the residual affect is that it gives the child a reason not to be on the streets. Thanks for your efforts and maybe we can have some of the kids come to Rotary one afternoon and play a few songs for us. Thanks, George Sigler 

My wife Carolyn and I have donated in the past to the Gifford Youth Orchestra.

Although our funds are limited and it is more difficult than ever with the economy being so slow, we will continue to give for several key reasons:


1.  We know our gift, no matter how small or large, when combined with other gifts, does make a difference.  We know that even a small gift can turn the decision as to whether a program such as the Gifford Youth Orchestra can continue or not.


2.  We know that the skills and disciplines young people learn from the education and structure involved in learning to play an instrument and being part of a team are fundamental life lessons for young people to become active,committed, and effective community members.


3.  We know that some young people just plain come alive through their involvement in music.  When a young person shifts from not caring to really caring about something, it can be like a light coming on in a dark room - music can and does do that for many young people.


4.  My wife and I experience great satisfaction in knowing that our little bit of financial help may have been just what was needed to provide an instrument, a teacher, an open classroom for a young person to have the opportunity to discover, learn, and excel through the gift of music.


5.  We also donate to the Gifford Youth Orchestra because of its track record. 
We have seen young people go from no ability to exceptional ability, from no musicianship to talented musicianship. We have seen children jump up with hands waving to have a chance to get a violin and take lessons, despite knowing hard disciplined work would be the price.


6.  We have seen lives transformed through the Gifford Youth Orchestra.  We
have seen real and  consistent commitment lived out by the orchestra’s leadership. The idea was taken to a working vision with visible and measurable results right here in the Indian River County community.


Food, shelter, clean water, vision, challenge, opportunity, education, teaching, and success are all essential for our young people and are vital elements of a person being afforded the opportunity to be all that they can be.


The Gifford Youth Orchestra may not be looked on as food, water, and shelter by some, but, in fact, The Gifford Youth Orchestra is food, water, and shelter to these young minds and hearts as they blossom because of the chance they are given through this program of opportunity.


Yes, we will continue to support the Gifford Youth Orchestra because the program  works and works well.  And, as each single child is given the opportunity to develop his or her talents, our community becomes a better place to live.


Gifford Youth Orchestra, thank you for the benefits you bring to our community, our state, and our nation.  You make a difference through the individual lives you have enriched.



Carolyn and john dean

















Contact Us

The Gifford Florida Youth Orchestra
8 Vista Gardens Trl #102
Vero Beach, FL 32962


 Mailing Address:P O Box 691166

Vero Beach, FL 32969-1166
Phone: +1 772 / 778-5118



Upcoming Dates

November 5, 2016

"The Magic of 13 Years"


The Gifford Community Center 

            4855 43rd Avenue

  Corner 43rd Ave. & 49th St.   



Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Gifford Youth Orchestra

Opens the meeting for

The Indian River County

School Board meeting



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