Article by KidWorks OC:
When he was honored as KidWorks’ “Volunteer of the Month” for December 2018, professional musician and founder of our Avanti Music program for high school students, Joe Cristina, made a profound statement.
“Music,” he said, “is a way for my students to find their voice.”
That “voice” was through singing and playing musical instruments of all kinds for the many dozens who enrolled in Avanti Music.
But what Joe also said at the time really explains the goal behind starting Avanti Music in 2012:
“What the students discover is not just a musical voice, but also an avenue for creative expression. My long-term aim is to integrate the musical world and the world of faith. Santa Ana, it is such a beautiful, vital, challenged, vibrant place and I think the residents have something to say. Music is one way to do that.”
After the nearly eight years leading Avanti Music, Joe has decided to close the program. We completely respect his decision and understand how hard it is to teach a skill like music remotely during the pandemic.
“Joe has invested in the lives of countless students and families at KidWorks,” says David Benavides, our Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director. “Through music, he has helped each of his students discover their God-given potential. The words ‘thank you’ do not begin to express our deep gratitude.”
Adds David, “We celebrate the positive impact Joe has had on many of us, as a partner, teacher and mentor.”
Recently, Joe summarized his years as a KidWorks volunteer and leader of Avanti Music this way:
“I have found the students to be the most focused, teachable and truly warm and loving kids. In addition, they are smart, talented and funny. The families are so supportive and grateful.
“I also learned that you don’t have to travel far to a distant country to pursue mission and ministry and make an impact. There are a lot of kids in my own backyard, in Santa Ana, who need guidance, love, proper attention and an opportunity to flourish. It’s been an honor to be their teacher, mentor, and help them find their voice.”
Post KidWorks, Joe says, “I still plan to work with deserving and committed music students in the area. I also continue my work in worship production and musical composition and arranging, focusing on music with Latin American themes and influence. I remain a prayer partner and supporter of the dedicated KidWorks staff that make such a difference in the community they serve.”
We have a tear in our eye as he leaves KidWorks and as the Avanti Music songbook closes—but thanks to Joe, we also have a joyful song in our heart.
By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer