SAN FRANCISCO — On Wednesday, March 10 the Bay area’s Jefferson Award announced its winners who were Margaret Gonzales and Steve Perdicaris. This duo of musicians teaches underprivileged children in a free-of-charge after-school music education program at San Francisco’s Mission District. For over 50 years the Jefferson Awards have been presented to recipients that put others first and are empowered by doing a public service for their communities.
In an interview with Sharon Chin from KPIX Gonzales talked about the reasons they started the program and how the experience has been so far. “The first time we see them holding their instrument is amazing,” she said. Gonzales has worked with many professional chamber ensembles and symphonic orchestras.
Perdicaris, is not only a professional musician but also an associate professor at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. He said the Mission District was the “ideal” place to open the nonprofit.
In 2015 Margaret Gonzalez and Steve Perdicaris established the after-school music education program. It was inspired by El Sistema which is also a free program based out of Venezuela in 1975. San Francisco’s Mission District music program is held at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. The goal of the program is to inspire children to create positive social change throughout their lives. The program includes 60 classes from September through May with instruction about basic musicianship, violin, and cello. Volunteers teach about 80 students, aged 6 through 15 years old, using donated instruments.
Gonzalez said she wanted to replicate the free program that she joined while growing up in Venezuela. She said, “It made me believe in things I could achieve. It made me believe I could achieve everything.”