Soothing strings bring peace and comfort to hospice patients

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For some people gifting isn’t exclusive to the holiday season. The FOX 4 Young Achievers of the week keep it going all year long. Once each week, almost every week, they make a gift of their musical talent and caring hearts to bring some peace and a little joy to people at the end stage of life.

Friday night at Kansas City Hospice House. Beautiful, comforting music drifts down the hallways and into the rooms of the people who are getting specialized advanced illness and end-of-life care. The music comes from the center’s chapel, from the stringed instruments of three teenagers and a 12 year old.

“Our main goal at The Kansas City Hospice House is to create a place of peace,” said Lane Foster, Volunteer Services Manager at Kansas City Hospice. “And so it’s really wonderful to come in here on a Friday night and feel that soothing music wash over you.”

That soothing music is played by this week’s FOX 4 Reaching 4 Excellence Young Achievers, Shane Oh and Gloria Park on the cellos and their siblings, Irene Oh and Huisung Park, on the violins.

“I think we give comfort to a lot of the families here,” said Shane. “And give them a little bit of peace and happiness in, what do you call it, a dark time for them.”

Each time they are here they play for 90 minutes.

“I like to think that it’s really calming and really peaceful,” said Gloria. “So it will help people that are maybe suffering or sad or in grief, things like that.” Their classical chamber music and religious selections often draw families and staff to the chapel to listen. Once a woman asked them to go to her mother’s room to play for her.

“And so Shane and I went and performed for her,” said Huisung. “And before then I really didn’t understand how much meaning the music we perform had for them. But after seeing her mother lying there on the bed and just seeing the joy that our performance brought to them was a really encouraging and a hopeful experience.” Huisung and Irene and Gloria and Shane have made an extraordinary commitment to this.

“Yes, it’s huge,” said Foster. They’ve been doing it steadfastly for more than two and a half years.

“And to hear someone sharing their talent for music, it’s just really special,” said Foster. They have hardly missed a Friday night in all that time.

“I’m just really thankful that we can play at hospice, said Irene. “And we enjoy it a lot because we hear a lot of times people appreciating us and that makes our day.” The Ohs and Parks say they had no personal connection at all with Kansas City Hospice House or any hospice program for that matter when they started playing here.

Shane said his parents suggested it when he simply wanted someplace to play and contribute. But the kids sure have a connection now. They say it’s become an experience they treasure and they can’t imagine not sharing their music with the residents here every week.

“This may be one of the last things they hear,” said Gloria, “and I think it’s a really good thing to have music be one of those things.”

The Ohs and Parks have all been studying and playing music for years, since they we small children. They go to Blue Valley district schools and they also play in their school orchestras.

FOX 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Wednesday on FOX 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on FOX 4 News at 8 a.m. and noon.