Voices of the Village has begun offering drive-in concerts with its "Music on the Move" program for its members and the Arlington community.
The drive-in concerts are from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., every Sunday in January, at the Village Community Services office building at 3210 Smokey Point Drive, Suite 200, in Arlington.
The music program from Village Community Services, a local nonprofit organization, provides adults with developmental disabilities a chance to make music and form their own community while performing at various events.
The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the program, though.
"When we first started we did Zoom and that worked a little, but it just wasn't the same," said Jon Dalgarn, music director for the program.
He said the online meetings didn't have the same energy or community as a live collaboration.
"So, I think it was really important to bring this back in some form," he said.
During the spring and summer Dalgarn began a program called 'Music on the Move' which went to a client's home to play outside.
"We got our music director to go out to each of our member's homes and play with them," said Vicki Adams, board president for Village Community Services.
However, when the weather began to get worse the program needed another option, and they so decided to switch to playing at the Village Community Services building, which has a covered area to provide protection for the musical instruments.
"We would set up at the Village Community Services building and play there for a couple of hours," said Adams.
Voices of the Village members could come and play from their car and community members could come and listen as well.
The outdoor concerts have gone on since the beginning of December and they have had up to 42 cars parked outside.
The program can help bring some connection back to the lives of adults with developmental disabilities.
"They get to see each other in some capacity," said Adams.
Margaret McClure, a board member and parent of one of the Voices of the Village members, said the concerts don't help her son as much but she sees how it helps others.
"They see their friends, they wave at them from car to car," said McClure.
COVID-19 has been difficult for many adults with developmental disabilities who already live with a lot of isolation even when there isn't a pandemic going on, said Adams.
"If you have had this music for most of your life, and then it's just taken away, that is tough," said Dalgarn.
Adams said one of the primary missions for Village Community Services is to provide that sense of community, but many of those programs have had to be paused during the pandemic.
"He makes the sign for 'music' everyday and I have to say 'no, not today,'" said McClure.
She said her son has always loved music.
"He played the air guitar when he was a baby," said McClure. "For a kid that can't walk without a walker it's huge to have that sort of connection," that the program provides, she said.
"You couldn't tell that he wasn't Mick Jagger up there," she said.
Dalgarn said Voices of the Village members enjoy taking part in making music.
"The clients have this great love that they just get to put out there," he said.
"To experience the joy that their experiencing when they are playing just uplifts the whole crowd," said McClure.
Many of the Voices of the Village clients don't have much community interaction besides a volunteer job.
"It's something to look forward to besides their work of pushing papers or crushing cans, which is what a lot of them do," said Dalgarn.
Voices of the Village gives its clients a chance to perform at local events and festivals and see the community in a way they normally wouldn't.
"The average person doesn't really know how much a person with challenges can offer to the community," said McClure.
Many are surprised at how well the band can come together, she said.
"When they see everyone acting cohesively they say 'these guys are amazing,'" she said.
Voices of the Village is supported by the community, typically through their two main fundraisers each year with their Friendship Walk and an annual benefit concert.
Adams said this year has been tough though because those fundraisers have moved virtual or been canceled but they are still planning for 2021 events.
For more information or to support the program go to villagecommunitysvcs.org/village-music-and-arts.