“Touching Hearts through Song,” Ensign, Oct. 2000, 69
Music has played an important role in Margie J. Kersey’s family. Fifteen years ago, when they moved to Tucson, Arizona, Sister Kersey discovered that the local public school music programs were insufficient due to lack of funding. And while the county sponsored a chorus for boys, no similar organization existed for girls.
Sister Kersey—the mother of five daughters who all love to sing—decided something must be done. Her proposal for starting a chorus for girls was accepted by the county, and a few girls started meeting in her home. From those humble beginnings, the Tucson Girls Chorus has expanded to more than 300 students and has garnered national and international recognition.
The nonprofit organization attracts girls from all walks of life. “While they come from very different backgrounds, they learn to love each other and to work toward goals together,” says Sister Kersey, a member of the Rolling Hills Ward, Tucson Arizona Rincon Stake. The group regularly performs at benefit concerts, influenced by Sister Kersey’s conviction that “if you have a talent, you should use it to help other people.” An advanced section of the choir has also toured the United States and recently began traveling internationally, performing in the United Kingdom and Canada. Money collected from these tours goes to a fund for homeless children.
Much of the reward for Sister Kersey comes from her experiences with girls who have disabilities or who are physically, financially, or emotionally disadvantaged: a fourth-grade girl with cerebral palsy who never felt she had a talent began to shine in concerts and joined a drama group; a fifth-grade girl who was terrified to sing ended up singing a solo in a school program; a sixth-grade girl, hospitalized for emotional problems, used the chorus as her motivation for earning a one-day weekly pass to attend rehearsals. Girls with family problems have sent letters to Sister Kersey saying that singing has helped them feel better about themselves. “That’s what makes our work so worthwhile,” Sister Kersey says. “Youth are our future, and I feel we are helping them.”—Jeanette Wells, Rolling Hills Ward, Tucson Arizona Rincon Stake