Through the power of music, Daniel's Music Foundation (DMF) has been helping individuals with disabilities to learn, socialize, and, simply, have a great time. In the words of Daniel Trush, the brave inspiration and force behind the foundation, DMF is all about music and "letting people shine. " In 1997, when Daniel was twelve years old, he experienced a brain aneurism that left him in a coma for 30 days, and then in a wheelchair for two years. Prior to the incident, Daniel was a music enthusiast having played both the guitar and the trumpet. Daniel's parents, Ken and Nancy Trush, said that while Daniel was in a coma they would play him his favorite artists as a form of communication. Thankfully, he eventually recovered. While in college as a non-matriculated student, he took a music history class and began to experiment with music as a form of therapy. Inspired by this concept and noticing the lack of music programs available to people with disabilities, Daniel and his parents founded DMF. Their hope was to use music as a means of empowerment bonding between people with disabilities. DMF had humble beginnings. The Trush family started by offering a keyboard class with five members in a basement that they would rent by the hour. Gradually, though, their purpose began to resonate with others, and their membership and funding grew. In 2011, DMF was chosen by the New York Yankees as the honored organization in their annual Hope Week - DMF members were invited to sing the national anthem in Yankee Stadium. This momentous event provided DMF with the coverage they were seeking. Within three weeks, the number of students in their programs increased from 150 to 200. Fast forward a few years later to 2013 when DMF was able to move into a state-of-the-art 8, 700-square-foot facility that is entirely wheelchair accessible and "barrier free. " Equipped with five studios and a plethora of instruments including keyboards, percussion, and guitars, DMF also offers private lessons. Members have gone on to perform at Giants Stadium and Madison Square Garden. In addition, they host some of their own special events including an annual festival with forty performances, dinner dances, and the "DMF underground" composed of artist performances and an open mic. Today, thanks to the dedication of everyone involved, DMF boasts over 300 students and 10, 000 annual visits to its facilities from members of other organizations that support people with disabilities. The foundation gauges its success based on a metric created by Daniel that it takes very seriously: "the smile-o-meter, " meant to measure the "changes in attitudes and outlook" reported by its members. For the Trush family, however, it is equally important to build a bridge between the students and the greater community. "We're about music, but also about awareness. "
Judith Norell is one of those extraordinary people who prove that anything is possible with the right amount of passion and hard work. When she was sixty years old, she retired from her life as a concert harpsichordist. Instead of using her retirement as an excuse to pick up new hobbies and spend her days in leisure, Judith decided to pursue arguably one of the most time-consuming careers - baking. Judith had always enjoyed baking. As a little girl, she would watch her mother bake bread and relish the pieces of dough her mother handed her just for play. Judith used baking as a way to create balance in her otherwise musical life. Whenever she could find time apart from performing, traveling, and conducting, Judith would make breads and pastries. "Music is very ephemeral, " she told me. "Most musicians love working with their hands. " Whether it is baking, or pottery (Judith's daughter, a concert violinist, is also a ceramicist), those with careers in music choose to embrace hobbies and arts that leave them with something a little more permanent than songs and symphonies. Making the shift from being a musician to baking was not smooth sailing. After working as an apprentice at Amy's Bread, Judith discovered that it was difficult to find a job. People questioned her ability to lift a flour sack due to her age and gender. Judith then turned her sights towards France, a country that she calls, "The home of great bread. " She studied with Gerard Mulot, allowing her knowledge of baking to grow. She admired the French practices: "The French bakers actually know the farmers from whom they buy the wheat, " she explained, adding that it is difficult to operate bakeries like that in the United States due to the number of independent farmers and the expense. Upon Judith's return to the United States, she worked at Le Pain Quotidien for a short time before discovering a "For Rent" sign on a property across the street from her apartment. She befriended the landlord, Georgia Stamoulis, who ultimately became her partner, and opened Silver Moon Bakery in 2000. The name, Judith informed me, comes from her experience as a long-time meditator. In Buddhism, Buddha is referred to as "the silent moon in the sky, illuminating everything. " Family and friends suggested that "Silent Moon" might not be the best fit, especially since the bakery would not be very silent, given Judith's desire to play classical music over the speakers, and so she decided to christen her new bakery "Silver Moon. "Silver Moon was the "first upscale commercial establishment in the area, " a fact that Judith has mixed feelings about. She realizes that she was at the start of a trend, which ultimately saw a lot of the local cafes and stores getting priced out. Ultimately, she recognizes that neighborhoods change, and she is happy to provide a community center for those living nearby. "I know a lot of the people, " she pointed out. "It's my home. "As for the items that Judith bakes, most of her ideas come straight from "her imagination. " She is delighted to have discovered a new pastry or a new combination of flavors. Judith is always concocting new ideas for things to try in her oven, but not before doing a bit of research. For instance, she started baking her famous "Bath Buns" after reading about the treats in works by Charles Dickens and Jane Austen. She learned that they were sweet breads with caraway seeds and confit on top. The result was a bun that was crunchy with a slightly sweet top. She is also well known for her chocolate orange baguettes and her corkscrew sourdoughs. "I love sourdoughs, " she revealed, before enlightening me on their history and that humans have been making sourdough for a thousand years??? "And they feel healthy and nourishing. "When I visited Silver Moon Bakery in the summer of 2016, I felt like I was stepping into a special city oasis. Both the outdoor sounds and extreme heat disappeared as I entered the cool, calming shop. I met Jennifer, a staff member, who showed me the rows and rows of pastries and breads. "It's just a happy place to be and work, " she stated, and the other employees smiled in agreement. She is proud that "everything is done here, " which is impressive, considering that mixing dough is a 24-hour process. In addition to baked goods, Silver Moon offers a selection of smoothies, and a menu of vegetarian sandwiches. Judith generously packaged up some pastries for the Manhattan Sideways team, including a chocolate chip brioche (with chocolate generously spilling out of the sides), a cinnamon brioche, and a pommier (in Jennifer's words, "so simple, so buttery"). Each item was more scrumptious than the next.