written by Amy Bartelloni, Contributing Writer
Bellingham resident Jeffrey Scornavacca is no stranger to fundraisers. By day Jeff is a business and software consultant and owns Silver Lake Productions with his wife, Lynn Scornavacca.
“I love what I do partially because I feel like I solve problems,” Jeff says. Over the years, Jeff found a way to merge these talents and passions with the ability to give back, starting with his involvement with the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC).
Held on the first weekend of August, the PMC is an annual bike ride that raises money for cancer research and treatment. This year will mark Jeff’s 16th ride from Sturbridge to Bourne, then back to Wellesley. The route takes the riders right through Bellingham, where groups cheer them on every year from the roadside.
“My friend Madeleine Arthur rode the PMC for many years,” Jeff (pictured left) said. “I was always intensely curious, but nervous about fundraising.” PMC riders are responsible for their own pledges, but Jeff has been fortunate to have a supportive group of friends who encourage him every year. Thanks to their generosity, Jeff has reached the $100,000 mark of lifetime donations, making him a “heavy hitter.”
“I feel incredibly blessed by their support,” Jeff said. He’s proud of the fact that one hundred percent of donations goes directly to Dana-Farber. The ride raised over $54 million last year and has raised more than $654 million over its thirty-nine-year history.
This background of fundraising merged nicely with another of Jeff’s creative pursuits—music. He is a skilled musician and songwriter, and the organization Musicians on Call (MOC) afforded him a way to use those talents to give back.
“With a lot of your passions that you’re interested in following, sometimes it’s great to connect those things to doing something better for someone else,” Jeff explained. Former bandmate Missy Ducharme introduced him to Musicians on Call, and both organizations have been great ways for him to turn things he loves into making a charitable difference for others.
Musicians on Call is a nationwide organization that brings music to the bedsides of patients in healthcare facilities. Since 1999, MOC volunteer musicians have performed for nearly 700,000 patients and their families, including over 4,000 at Boston’s Floating Children’s Hospital and the VA Medical Center since 2016. Jeff spends most of his time playing at the Boston VA hospital.
“One of the very cool things about Musicians on Call is that you don’t need to be a musician to go do this,” Jeff says. “You can volunteer as a guide.” A guide enters the patient’s room first to make sure everyone is ready for the musician. If they want to hear music, Jeff will go in and play, sometimes taking requests across different genres. On an average night, Jeff will play for around 35 to 45 patients, staff, and family.
“We’re there to provide a five-minute break from the tedium of being in the hospital,” he says, a deeply rewarding experience for both parties. Of his many favorite moments, the time he played “People Get Ready” to a patient stands out. When they finished the song, the patient had tears in his eyes and told them that his daughter had sung that song on American Idol with his son as backup. Moments like these are what makes the experience so worthwhile for both Jeff and the patients.
Jeff is also an active fundraiser for Musicians on Call, through local gigs and a donation webpage. Money he raises goes to expanding the program into new areas. Several Boston area facilities participate, but Jeff would like to see even more on board, perhaps into the Providence area. Donations go to administrative costs of those startups, including infrastructure costs of setup, getting word out to local musicians, training, and background checks. Together, Jeff and Missy raised over $15,000 for the program, and this year Jeff has raised $2,800 alone.
Information about volunteering for musicians on call can be found at their website at https://www.musiciansoncall.org/volunteer
. No musical ability is required to be one of the guides, the “eyes and ears of the MOC,” according to their website. Guides serve as the liaison between the hospital and the performing musician; they know the “protocols, policies, and expectations of the hospitals or healthcare facilities in which they volunteer, and are responsible for making sure these guidelines are upheld during the program,” and musicians are always welcome. Donations to Jeff’s fundraiser can be made at https://donate.musiciansoncall.org/scornavaccaMOC