Foundation banquet March 23 to feature local musicians


Brenda and Matt Stier will be performing during the annual Spring Valley Area Community Foundation banquet Saturday, March 23.
By : 
David Phillips
Spring Valley Tribune

The Spring Valley Area Community Foundation annual banquet on Saturday, March 23, at Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery will feature the music of local musicians Brenda and Matt Stier.

The Stiers have been involved in music for many years, including the Irish Minstrels group, but got their start as a duo playing Christmas music at some area nursing homes. Now they are performing several times a month in a variety of settings.

The back of their business card has a quote by Beethoven, "Music can change the world."

The foundation has a similar goal, although in a more focused area: “We are all here to make our part of the world even better,” said President Wendy Thon.

“Our Foundation is and will be around to help in the future to help generations of Spring Valley, Wykoff and Ostrander residents,” she said. “We continually are working to increase our endowment so there will be a continuous stream of funds to put back into our communities. We are all making a difference one dollar and one volunteer hour at a time.”

The primary way the foundation supports this part of the world is through grants to support activities in the communities of Spring Valley, Wykoff and Ostrander. This helps the foundation achieve its mission “to build a dynamic community by encouraging generosity, promoting civic engagement and providing the opportunity to enhance the quality of life by creating community partnerships.”

Representatives from two organizations that recently received grants from the foundation will be on hand to talk about how the foundation helped their projects. People attending the banquet will hear a few words from the organizers of the Kingsland Kind program, which took place during Bullying Awareness Month last fall. Another speaker will give a short talk on the rebuilding of the VFW Hall, which was damaged in a fire in 2017.

The banquet is a primary fund-raiser to provide money for the grants, according to foundation Vice President Gina Jahn. It is also an opportunity to connect with donors and thank them for their support, and to recognize board members for their dedication, she added.

Although the banquets have always featured keynote speakers in previous years, the banquet committee decided to invite the Stiers to feature their music for this year’s program.

“Brenda and Matt spend much of their time sharing their music in our communities and beyond for enhancement of the lives of people.  Their commitment to community is what the foundation strives to build,” said Jahn.

The Stiers said they were very honored to be invited and look forward to playing music for the banquet. They play a variety of songs, and don't follow a specific genre of music.

“We often joke that we play anything from hymns to rock and roll, and everything in between,” said Brenda. “We hear a song that we like, write it out on paper, put guitar chords to it, and start working on it; some songs make it, others get crumpled and tossed in the garbage. But we have fun choosing our own songs and putting our own style to them.”

Matt started out in music by playing fiddle in his family's band, called Welcome Home. Later on he was a member of The Hill Band and The Irish Minstrels. Most people never knew Matt even played guitar, noted Brenda, until they see and hear the duo now.

She said she has always loved to sing, “and we joke about me being referred to as ‘The Karaoke Queen’ in the past.” She was also part of The Irish Minstrels, and plays three different Irish whistles as well as the Bodhran, which is an Irish drum.

Since their start as a duo, they continue playing in nursing homes, care centers and assisted livings around the area several times each month. “We enjoy getting to know the residents and are happy to go in and play for them and brighten up their day. To see residents respond to a certain song, or maybe even start singing along with us — it is so rewarding,” said Brenda.

They also play for weddings, funerals and private parties, leading them to "learn up" songs by request for those events, said Brenda. They have played at the local Memorial Day program and dressed in costume to play music as "Ma and Pa" at Historic Forestville's Fourth of July celebration. They have played at fundraisers and benefits, and have organized "music jams" by asking other musicians to play with them at different events.

The foundation, which was founded in 2011, may be best known for its annual Little Huskers 1k run, a free event for children during Ag Days in Spring Valley. Last year, about 260 kids participated.

Thon pointed out that due to the generosity of local people, the foundation was able to provide free registrations, T-shirts, personalized bibs, medals and refreshments at the finish line for all participants.

“Our goal is to promote family, physical fitness and healthy lifestyles,” she said. “The Spring Valley Area Community Foundation’s goal is to enhance and sustain the quality of life for all our residents.  We appreciate your support and generosity.”

She added that the foundation would like to support the community even more as it welcomes discussion on project ideas and grant applications. She asked that area residents reach out to a board member if they have any ideas or projects that will help the foundation achieve its mission. Board members are listed on the foundation website at svareafoundation.org.

The banquet begins with a social hour at 6 p.m. and a meal served at 7 p.m. In addition to music and brief talks by grant awardees, there will be a live and silent auction, and a wine pull. Tickets are available from any board member or at the Spring Valley Tribune or City Hall.

“Come to the banquet and learn more about these projects and have a good time visiting with others who also want to make this part of the world a better place for us now and in the future,” said Thon.