The Indianapolis jazz community is mobilizing resources this winter to take care of its own. In coordination with the TTTS Community Connection Food Pantry, 2626 E. 46th St., jazz musicians and supporters launched Musicians Relief earlier this month, a program that devotes food pantry resources exclusively to local jazz musicians that need relief.
"We wanted to do something to help area musicians," said Valerie Phelps, who helped to found Musicians Relief along with her husband, drummer Kenny Phelps, bassist Frank Smith and Jazz Kitchen owner David Allee. "There's not a lot of gigs out there, and those that are available are going to the same people that have been doing it for so long. And there's alot of retired musicians - those that are over 65 - that are barely getting by, and are so proud that they don't want to tell anybody."
When I called Valerie Monday afternoon, she said that as we were speaking, Kenny Phelps and Frank Smith were delivering food baskets to 10 different musicians who were referred to the pantry as being in need. She notes that any food assistance is entirely confidential.
Valerie and Kenny Phelps have operated the TTTS Community Connection Food Pantry for three years, serving the general community in a complex - the CAGI building - that also offers utility assistance, drug rehabilitation, help for those trying to clear a criminal record and for former inmates re-entering the community. Valerie notes that, once those looking for help have entered the building, they have the opportunity to avail themselves of several resources under one roof.
Donations up to $50 are accepted through a Paypal account at www.jazzkitchen.com. Those donating larger amounts or that are in need of further information can call the TTTS Pantry at 317-294-4169. The Jazz Kitchen will give a free ticket to any person donating more than $10. All donations are tax-deductible through the TTTS Pantry, a 501(c)3 organization.