Few welcome a trip to the doctor's office let alone weeks inside a hospital. Then there are kids who should be spending their time with crayons or running outside who are instead battling serious illnesses cooped up inside their hospital rooms.
The Songs for Kids Foundation looks to break up that monotony and bring some joy to kids with illnesses in and out of hospitals through music. Musicians come to hospitals and serenade kids their bedsides, perform interactive shows and even turning hospital rooms into recording studios.
Musician Josh Rifkind founded Songs for Kids Foundation in 2007. He was inspired by the goodwill of one of his friends, who headed to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to help build a house.
“I had always thought about myself as a good person . . . but it made me think that I could do a lot more,” said Rifkind. “But selfishly, I thought, how can I do more with a flow that is good to me? There are a lot of things I’m passionate about. I love kids, I love music, I’ve been an artist manager and an artist, and my father is a doctor. I wanted to combine those worlds.”
Songs for Kids Foundation is the middle of its annual concert and fundraising event "500 Songs for Kids," which is exactly what it sounds like (though Rifkind admits that this year, it’s more like 350 songs). The endeavor requires wrangling 500 different musicians and bands, and each one performs one song.
Through his own experiences as an artist and an artist manager, Rifkind has facilitated performances on national broadcasts and in Madison Square Garden, but performing for kids has become his true calling.
“None of that compares to a quiet moment with a kid in this circumstance,” he said.