88-year-old Betts Hall thought she would never be able to play her beloved violin again. That is, until she met students from i.am College Track, an organization dedicated to empowering students from underserved communities to graduate from college. On June 12th, students fulfilled Betts’ wish to get her violin repaired, and they celebrated with a special performance by Betts for the students and residents of her retirement community.
College Track students discovered Betts’ Wish in late February 2014, while conducting a workshop with staff from Wish of a Lifetime, a Denver-based nonprofit dedicated to fulfilling life-enriching Wishes for seniors. Through the workshop, students spoke with seniors about their passions, family, and history. The students instantly felt the significant impact that music has had on Betts throughout her life, and felt compelled to help make her dream a reality. Students took action to nominate Betts for her Wish of a Lifetime, and fundraised to make her dream come true.
Betts’ passion for music began at a young age and has proved to be unwavering. At six years old, she, her parents, and her sisters would perform as a band at parties and weddings. Betts began playing the violin and piano; her sisters were both piano teachers. She was surrounded by music, and playing became an everyday occurrence. Betts was a charter member of the Winnipeg Symphony where she grew up in Manitoba, Canada. In college, Betts turned her passion into a lifestyle at the Toronto Conservatory of Music. She then went on to play at the University Symphony. After moving to southern California in 1957, she belonged to the “Scottish Fiddlers” for 12 years. She soon got married and began a family, but she continued to play music in her spare time – any instrument that she could get her hands on.
Currently, Betts is an active member of the Hollenbeck Palms retirement community in Los Angeles. She worked as the Activity Director for many years and continues to volunteer. From music to painting to drawing, Betts loves to keep busy with the arts in general. However, Betts’ violin was in dire need of repairs; it had been in tired shape for 20 years and was virtually unplayable. Having her violin in working order will allow her to play with other residents and continue to celebrate a passion she has had for over 80 years. Thursday’s event was sponsored by Chase Community Giving.