Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

January 31, 2013

iPod drive to facilitate healing through music

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — Kelly Willenborg is a big believer in the power of music to assist in the healing process, particularly among senior citizens.

The Effingham resident regularly shares her love of music with area nursing home residents. Now, she wants to enable seniors and disabled individuals to enjoy music's healing power even when she's not around.

That's why she is spearheading an iPod donation drive with a goal of bringing 100 of the personal listening devices into nursing homes and other facilities where they might be useful.

The drive begins Monday and will run through Monday, Feb. 11.

"Gently used" Apple iPods, as well as cables, iTunes gift cards and cash donations of any amount may be brought to Chesnut Family Music, 121 W. Jefferson Ave., or any branch of The First National Bank of Dieterich. The bank has branches in Effingham, Teutopolis, Dieterich, the Lake Sara area and Newton.

Drive organizers are only accepting Apple iPods. Willenborg said restricting the drive to Apple brand devices will facilitate the training process for staff.

Willenborg said she first noticed how music made people feel during her days as a concert promoter.

"It didn't matter whether they were young or old," she said. "You could see the power of music at every concert.

"They may have come to the concert in a bad mood, but for a two-hour concert, they were able to leave their sorrows behind."

Willenborg's concert observations caused her to seek knowledge about the curative effects of music.

"There are dozens of books on the power of music on the mind," she said.

Willenborg began to put what she had learned into practice in 2010 as a Brookstone Suites volunteer. She said the benefits were apparent after a matter of weeks.

"I could see mental and socialization benefits," she said, adding music has been known to relieve depression, anxiety and agitation.

Sharon Slifer, assistant activities director at Lakeland, said she sees the impact that music has on her residents.

"Residents who are normally non-responsive become more responsive," Slifer said. "And, they do better in other activities."

Slifer said Willenborg is a big draw at Lakeland.

"When I say she's coming, the residents get excited and tell me they want to go."

As part of her work, Willenborg became a volunteer advocate for Music and Memory, a nonprofit organization devoted to sharing music, particularly with Alzheimer's patients as a way to mitigate effects of the memory-loss disease.

Effingham is the fourth Illinois community to have an iPod drive. The drives have taken place to benefit 62 different facilities in 21 states and four foreign countries.

Willenborg said any slack between donations and the 100-iPod goal will be picked up by proceeds from the sale of a 1978 Volkswagen bus that she bought several years ago at a swap meet sponsored by Mid America Motorworks in Effingham. She said those proceeds can either be used to buy more iPods, which cost about $50 a piece, or training for nursing or group home personnel.

For more information about the bus or the iPod drive, call Willenborg at 217-254-2149.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com