The Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra is honoring their longest-standing volunteer, and we don't have to look far to find him.
Tony Lucas keeps TODAY’S TMJ4 up and running as the director of engineering and operations. It's a job that requires a lot of hours. Still, he finds the time to volunteer with the young musicians at MYSO at least three nights a week. And he's been doing that for more than 20 years.
"In the beginning I was kind of nervous to play my instrument in front of everyone," said Rosalyn, a third grader in the program. "But he makes me comfortable. He's gentle and helpful. When I ask him for help, he's always there."
"We talk to the children about school," Lucas said. "We talk to them about their other activities. It's not just music. But music becomes a part of their life. I get to meet their families. I get to help these kids see their talent. They learn to work hard, and they excel. And for me, to be a part of that process, is a privilege and an honor."
Edna Gonzalez was a student at MYSO for nearly ten years - from fourth grade through her senior year of high school. In just two months, she'll be the first person in her family to graduate college. She says it was Lucas and the other MYSO volunteers who first helped her realize her own potential.
"These are students who just need someone to show them that they care, and that's what Tony is doing," Gonzalez said. "He's showing these kids that he cares, and that he wants to see them to succeed. In music, school, and life."
"It made me feel like if they believe in me, that means I can do it," she said.
"That keeps me coming back here - day after day, week after week, year after year - because I'm getting so much back from it," Lucas said. "And hopefully I'm able to give more and more and more. The kids and I take care of each other."
Lucas will be given the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra's "Collaborative Spirit Award" Thursday evening.
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