Who We Are

The Elders Drum Project Inc. was founded by Marci Berman, Randi Carlson, and musician, Fré Atlast. The project began in an upstate nursing home in 1998. The main goal of the program was to address many of the common problems associated with living in a nursing home environment. Many people, once placed in a primary care facility, exhibit signs of depression, isolation, disorientation and loneliness. The Elders Drum Project provided a method of bringing residents together in creative activity and reconnecting them to the outside world. Using recycled materials, the Elders created their own instruments and played them together. They presented performances at the nursing home that were open to residents, staff, families, and members of the outside community.

The Elders were very inspired by creating their own drums and the staff soon found themselves with a surplus of vibrantly painted instruments. These drums were used in various public events, including schools, camps, festivals and parades. These events were documented in photographs, video tape and in news articles. The Elders were able to see the results of their work in the outside world, and it brought them much joy and satisfaction.

Some events where the Elders Drums have been featured are: Lincoln Center Outdoor Festival “Luna Opera” in NYC, The World Peace Festival in Amenia NY, New Milford Social Services Family Retreat in Colebrook CT, Shandaken Womens Network in Shandaken NY, Planet Peace Day Camp in Amenia NY, Florence Griswald Museum Art Festival in Old Lyme CT, Peace Ceremony at High Meadow School in Stone Ridge NY, Elders Art Exhibit at the Deep Listening Gallery in Kingston NY, NYSOTA Conference at Dominican College NY, University of Scranton in PA, LaGuardia College in NYC.

The Elders Drum Project program is still continuing in the original nursing home where it all began. Since then, our organization has grown to include a variety of programs and services for all ages. We have received a great deal of support from members and volunteers which have allowed our programs to grow and flourish. In 2003, we received our 501-(C)3 designation as a nonprofit organization. Here are some of the people that are contributing to our Vision:

Fre and Marci and Randi
Marci Berman, Fre Atlast, and Randi Carlson

Fre Atlast is a performer, songwriter, producer, and educator. She has been performing and teaching drumming for over 25 years. Her area of expertise, working with special populations, includes teaching at preschools, nursing homes, rehabs, and other institutions. She has been leading community drum circles since 1994. She is the Program Director of The Elders Drum Project, Vice President of the Board of the Rosendale Theatre Collective, and owner of the TRANSnDANCEnDRUM Center in Rosendale.

Fre has performed with many area musicians including, IABAS Brazillian Band, Ritual Motion, Sirius Coyote, Birds of a Feather Community Drum Ensemble, ASE, Allesandra Belloni, Barr Scott, Hemmingway's Cat, Peace is Possible Chorus, Women of the World, and the Rosendale Improvement Association Brass Band and Social Club.

Dawn Meola has a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology and many years of experience working with youth and adults from a diverse range of abilities and cultures in a variety of educational settings. She has been drumming and playing percussion since the mid-nineties. She has been an active member and grant writer for the Elders Drum Project since its inception. When not working with the Elders Drum Project she can be found working on archaeological digs in Italy, studying ancient goddesses, and working with other artists or on her own on various creative projects.

Carole Caru Thompson is a Shekere master and percussionist, and a counselor, educator and group facilitator in the areas of Vocational Counseling, Youth Leadership and Addiction Rehabilitation. For 30 years she has developed curriculum and utilized skills to teach, support, empower and build community amongst children and adults. As a percussionist/singer she is a principle member of ASE, Women of the World, Alakande, and has taught & directed the Shekerettes (a group of performing elder's 65 – 89 yrs. old) for 5 years. Ms. Thompson brings to the table ways to empower, inspire, communicate and reach goals.

Tony Cardinale is a massage therapist and eldercare professional working with the elder population for 24 years. She has recently returned to the area and is thrilled to be involved with the EldersDrumProject.

Amber Kelly spent many years at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, MA and was director of: Food Services 1994-1997, Healing Arts 1997-2004, and Operations 2004-2005. Amber also worked as a chef, landscaper, and farmer. Amber is an avid artist, healer, and drummer.

Marci Berman O.T.R./L. is an Occupational Therapist practicing in the Mid-Hudson area for over 22 years. She has worked extensively with the elderly and psychiatric populations, developing programs in rehab, long term care facilities, home-care, and adult day-care programs. Marci integrates her knowledge and skills from a diversity of areas such as Yoga, African Dance, drumming, gardening, and sewing into her therapy programs.

Randi Carlson C.O.T.A. is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant working in the field for over 18 years. She has worked extensively with the elderly in maintenance and restorative rehab programs. she has initiated and implemented all components of prevocational programs that included transitional employment and social/leisure activities for inpatient/outpatient psychiatric populations. Randi is a Certified Riding Instructor and has developed in-house riding programs for United Cerebral Palsy.

Board of Directors
Tony, Caru, Dawn, and Amber

Dawn Meola • President
Caru Thompson • Vice-President
Tony Cardinale • Treasurer
Amber Kelly • Public Relations

The Elders Drum Project could not have succeeded without the help of friends and supporters, including former Board members Ruth Staber, Dolores Quiles, and our treasurer Renee Englander. Long time Board Member Barbara Piombino has stepped down as a board member but she continues to act as our secretary and chief advisor.

Crystal Schrage • Graphic Arts, EDP WebMaster
Kesii McKaye • Elder Wisdom
Rita Cotrell
• Director of The Occupational Therapy Dept. at the University of Scranton
Sarah McGinty
• Legal Services
Barbara Bruckner
• Accounting Services
Nancy Brophy
• Education Specialist. Owner/Director Learning Arts Pre-School
Victoria Christgau
• Kingian Nonviolence Trainer, and former President of The Elders Drum Project
Ed Witkin
• Solar Power Consultant
Giovanni Carlo
• Musician, Eco-Village Representative
Kathleen Sartor
• Musician, Eco-Village Representative
Carol Seitz
• Photographer
Pat Sinatra
• Tattoo Artist, Web Consultant
Rosalyn Clark
• Artist, Poet, Elder
Gene Aguirre
• Nurse/Director WIC Program, Ulster, NY
Debbie DeGuire
• Educator, Montessouri/Theater Arts
Ben Talutto
• Artist, Youth Advocate
Nancy King
• Public Relations
Jane Stabile • Building Advisor
Angel • Wellness Practitioner

©2005 EldersDrumProject Inc. • PO Box 250, Rosendale NY 12472
info@eldersdrumproject.org • 845-658-4136

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