Archive for the ‘Making a Difference’ Category

A father's tribute to his son's life

National Suicide Prevention Week is Sept 4-10.

Back in April I wrote a blog about Alan Carter Villacruz-Curley, a young member of the Luna family that lost his battle with depression by taking his own life. His father, Jeff Curley, has formed Pick With Austin, a nonprofit charity organization that operates in Alan’s memory to educate and elevate awareness about youth depression and suicide.

Alan played a Luna Woodland Ash guitar. His father Jeff has transformed his guitar, with the artistic talents of air brush artist Yuliya, into a stunning tribute to Alan’s life. The traditional peace pipe in the design was given to Alan by his father and they both shared an affinity for Native American culture. The dog is their Siberian Husky, which was Alan’s pet and jogging partner .

Alan in foreground with peace pipe

Picture of Alan used as inspiration for guitar

Endeavor to Persevere

When asked about the words on the guitar, Jeff stated “Depression is a horrible disease. One must ENDEAVOR TO PERSEVERE to overcome it.”

Alan's picture alongside Luna sound hole sticker

Native American petroglyphs at upper bout


The stigma associated with mental illness and suicide works against suicide prevention by discouraging persons at risk from seeking life-saving help and further traumatizes survivors of suicide. The best thing we can do to help those at risk is to be willing to de-stigmatize mental illness and thereby ease their sense of isolation by openly discuss the subject.

Experts believe that most suicidal individuals do not want to die. They just want to end the pain they are experiencing. Experts also know that suicidal crises tend to be brief. When suicidal behaviors are detected early, lives can be saved.

Jeff will be speaking Tues. Sept. 6th on the steps of the Williamson County Courthouse in Texas to members of media, community leaders, youth group pastors, and school officials.  He will be discussing his journey this past year since losing his son… and educating others about Depression in teens which can lead to sometimes fatal suicidal thoughts. By knowing the signs and what to do to help, we could find ourselves in the position of potentially preventing the loss of another young life.

Alan’s tribute Luna guitar will be on display at the courthouse during Suicide Prevention Week , as well as at all other events and fund raisers that Pick With Austin attends. Learn more about Pick With Austin here.

In the U.S., in the next 24 hours 1,439 teens will attempt suicide. Six of those attempts will end in death. Every 100 minutes another teenager will commit suicide.

If you feel a teen is depressed and contemplating suicide:

1. Don’t be afraid to use the word suicide. Ask them directly if they are thinking about it.
2. Listen openly and without judging.
3. Believe what a person says, and take all threats seriously.
4. Never keep someone’s suicidal feelings a secret.
5. Share responsibility by getting others involved.
6. Reassure the person that help is available, and support and encourage him/her to reach out to sources of help in the community.
7. Act immediately if you feel someone is at imminent risk for suicide by involving others who can help… and if necessary make contact with the police, emergency services, or a hospital to ensure the person’s safety.

If you or someone you know is suicidal, please contact a mental health professional or call the 24 hr. national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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Music is sometimes the only thing that keeps someone hanging on. This is especially true for soldiers on the battlefield and those who are left to battle for their lives or mental health after serving their country.

I recently visited James Kaplan, Polytrauma Recreation Therapist at our local VA’s Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center in Tampa to see how Luna could help with their music program. The Tampa Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center is one of four facilities in the country designed to provide intensive rehabilitative care to Veterans and Service members who experienced severe injuries (including brain injuries) to more than one organ system. The other facilities are located in Palo Alto, Minneapolis, and Richmond.

I have to admit I was unprepared for what I saw on the ward and deeply saddened by the experience, yet it gave me a deeper understanding of just how much need there is for providing the transformational power of music to veterans undergoing physical or psychological rehab. Luna plans to donate a total of 12 Safari travel guitars which are a perfect size for a hospital setting as they can be played in bed, in wheelchairs, and don’t take up a lot of storage space.

To that end, Luna is currently hosting an auction on bay for a Luna Henna Oasis signed by artists performing at the 2008 Grammy “Person of the Year” event honoring Aretha Franklin. Artists signing the guitar included Dan Akyroyd, Jim Belushi, BeBe and CeCe Winans, Dave Koz, GRAMMY-nominated pianist Lang Lang, Anthony Hamilton, Hip-hop artist Lil’ Mama, Patti Austin, John Legend and Herbie Hancock.

Please check it out here and bid for a good cause if you can! 100% of proceeds will go to the Tampa VA.

The healing powers of music have been discussed as far back as Plato and Aristotle. But the therapy’s modern incarnation began after World War II, when musicians visited veterans hospitals to play for patients suffering both physical and psychological trauma. Doctors found that patients who weren’t being helped by traditional therapies often responded to music. The VA has been a pioneer in music therapy, according to the American Music Therapy Association, but they are still woefully understaffed and need both instrument donations and volunteers.

courtesy of Musicorps

Ff you have an instrument donation or can spare some time to perform or give classes, call your local VA. If there’s not a facility near you, check out some of these organizations that provide guitars for returning troops.

If you know of some other organizations, please comment and I will include in this post.

Peace Out ~ Yvonne

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Recently, Luna donated a Fauna Dragonfly guitar to the Federation’s 75th Anniversary gala on April 13, 2011 in Washington, D.C.. Robert Redford was there in person to receive the Conservationist of the Year award.Comedian Chevy Chase also attended the event to support his wife, Jayni Chase, who was honored for her work in promoting energy-efficient schools and environmental education for children. The event raised $675,000 for NWF programs and services.The “Dragonfly” raised $735!!  According to Tracy Edmonds, Major Donor Events Coordinator, “the guitar was easily the hit of the auction!” Luna was proud to be part of this event.

Learn about the “Fauna Dragonfly” here
Also available in a solid top as the “Oracle Dragonfly” here

Robert Redford Accepting Award

Janie and Chevy Chase with Wallaby

Luna Guitars believes that musicians have enormous potential to make their voices heard and use their creativity as a force for good. After the BP Oil Spill, Luna also partnered with Dean Guitars and the National Wildlife Federation in its’ response to the oil spill crisis by placing four signed guitars for auction on Ebay. Two Luna acoustics were signed by Don Felder and Jonny Lang, and two electrics donated by Dean Guitars were signed by Sammy Hagar and Collective Soul. Together they brought in over $2500.

Gulf Cleanup Donations

Artist Signings

Learn more about the National Wildlife Federation and how YOU can be involved in their amazing efforts at http://www.nwf.org/

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Courtesy of Seth Godin

Do you need a permit?

Where, precisely, do you go in order to get permission to make a dent in the universe?

The accepted state is to be a cog. The preferred career is to follow the well-worn path, to read the instructions, to do what we’re told. It’s safer that way. Less responsibility. More people to blame.

When someone comes along and says, “not me, I’m going down a different path,” we flinch. We’re not organized to encourage and celebrate the unproven striver. It’s safer to tear them down (with their best interests at heart, of course). Better, we think, to let them down easy, to encourage them to take a safer path, to be realistic, to hear it from us rather than the marketplace.

Perhaps, years ago, this was good advice. Today, it’s clearly not. In fact, it’s disrespectful, ill-advised and short sighted. How dare we cheer when a bold changemaker stumbles? Our obligation today isn’t to spare the feelings of our peers from future disappointment. It’s to establish an expectation that of course they’re going to do something that matters.

If you think there’s a chance you can make a dent, GO.



You have my permission. Not that you needed it.

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It is a thing of beauty when guitar companies, non profit organizations and professional musicians come together for a common cause! Guitars in the Classroom and Playing For Change are teaming up to bring you Playing for Change & Education!, an exciting online auction featuring unique and celebrity signed musical instruments & sports memorabilia, plus a variety of treasures and special experiences you won’t find anywhere else including tickets and VIP passes to Playing for Change concerts! Auction proceeds will create free musical opportunities for children and teachers in the states and around the world!


Why should you check it out?

– The auction is a fantastic opportunity to save money on quality musical instruments, accessories and hard-to-find experiential items, while supporting the missions of Guitars in the Classroom and Playing for Change to continue bringing the healing and teaching power of music to communities and children around the world.

– The auction features instruments signed by Jack Johnson, Jackson Browne, Jake Shimabukuro and others

– In addition to music-related items, there’s also
– Sports memorabilia signed by top athletes from NBA and NHL teams
– VIP Passes to the 30th Annual John Lennon Tribute Concert at the Beacon
Theater in New York
– Ticket packages for Playing for Change Concerts including personal meet
& greet w/ band

– The auction features musical merchandise from companies like D’Addario, Greg Bennett Guitars, Godin, Levy’s Leathers, Luna Guitars, Martin, Ovation, Peak Music Stands, and Washburn. (alphabetically)

The auction will run from Sunday, October 24th – Sunday, November 7th, 2010.
FOLLOW AUCTION UPDATES HERE. You can also fan the GTIC Facebook page for auction news.

Music has always been the universal language, and musicians have always been on the front lines working as a force for good on the planet. We need that spirit of cooperation now more than ever!

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I first met Kate Diaz after Vicki Genfan forwarded an original song that Kate, then 10, had sent Vicki after her Guitar Player Magazine’s “Guitar Superstar” win.
I wrote about her in my blog September of 08.

Kate plays a Luna Muse Parlor. After she wrote me the other day, I spontaneously checked out her YouTube page to see how her music was coming along. To my amazement there she was, at 12, playing with Sister Hazel.

The back story is that Kate had collected money playing at a local music venue and donated it to Lyrics for Life, a non profit founded by Sister Hazel, to fund research and support for pediatric cancer patients. It was so amazing to see Kate’s progress in those two years documented on her Youtube Channel. Stop by and say hi!

Kids (and adults) often feel helpless about how to make a difference, but here is a young lady who is living those beautiful lyrics by the Roches… “love is true music, and it radiates around!”

Shine On, Kate!!!!

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