Striking a Chord

In a town full of community-minded spirits, these individuals distinguish themselves. For them, the season of giving is 12 months long.

By Cindy Schweich Handler, Montclair Magazine, Holiday 2008
A clinical social worked trained to "help people reach their potential," Alma Schneider realized that she needed an outlet for doing just that after the birth of her third of four children. The former New Yorker had studied singing at the High School of Music and Art, and her quest for open mikes led to the former Coffee Club Cafe on Valley Road.

"I put together a night of parents like me, musicians who'd performed when they were younger and gotten away from it because of careers and responsibilities at home," Schneider recalls. The cover charge was five dollars for Tsunami relief, corporate matching donations raised the night's take to $900. Ands Parents Who Rock (, a fundraising powerhouse, was born.

Four years later, recipients of their largesse include Montclair's Developmental Learning Center, for whom they raised $30,000; the children of murdered resident Monica Paul; and an All Children's Playground in Edgemont Park, built with $150,000 that PWR raised in conjunction with the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence. A Parents Who Rock CD recorded for the latter effort brought in $12,000 alone. A concert for Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit music program, will provide 500 new instruments and teacher-training to the public schools. "The only criteria for playing at our shows it that you be a parent, though most people who perform are pretty good," says Schneider. And be patient: There's a waiting list, and you might not play the same year you get on it.

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