Student Forums
A journal of social practice & professional engagement for the Antioch community

Your Time To Shine is a non-profit organization founded in 2013 by Matthew J. Oestreicher and Joseph Gray, two incredibly talented musicians dedicated to providing music and arts programs for schools in in-need communities as a way to give back to the community. We are located in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a city in which many schools’ art funding was cut, leaving some schools with no performance art classes. We also provide paid workshops in Fairfield, Westport, New Haven, Danbury, and surrounding counties.

Your Time To shine provides weekly performance art and music classes to elementary and middle schools. We aspire to provide a variety of performance art courses to capture the need of every child we teach and for that, we have a set of the curriculum including songwriting, performance support, piano lessons, guitar lessons, drum lessons, voice and pitch control, and others.

The main goal of our organization is teaching our youth valuable life skills and musical talents through music and musical instruments. The goal is to support their professional and personal growth and help establish opportunities to aim higher in their futures, and aspire to become who they dream to become. We are also committed to showcasing the talents of the youth of Bridgeport to their community. We provide opportunities to perform at the Amateur Night show hosted at the historic Apollo Theater, as well as auditions to high school musicals and Broadway. We work with professional musicians, artists, singers, and others to advise, mentor, and help these young people reach their dreams.

Besides supporting the children, we involve their parents and the community in their education by showcasing their talents  in schools and also at our big shows in professional theater venues. An engaged community supports the growth of the youth and inspires them to explore and be confident.

I am the project coordinator and my job primarily consists of creating projects within our organization. I manage the international virtual exchange project that we have started with our partners in Singapore. From the beginning of my Co-op to now, I have started and worked on many projects:

  • A biweekly newsletter project: so far, I have sent five of them featuring every aspect of our organization with a focus on our showcases and interactions with our students.
  • A video and picture project consisting of me recording all the classes I attend and also the shows and the auditions. I am using those pictures to update our social media and also provide our sponsors with current videos and images.
  • A social media campaign: I started managing the Facebook page in order to increase our audience, promote our shows, and use Facebook as an outlet to spread the word about us and what we do.
  • A redesign of our website and marketing tools: I have changed many aspects of the website to make it more appealing and easy to navigate and also redesign our marketing forms and flyers.
  • I have also helped organized showcases in schools and in theater, taught classes, mentored children, and done researches about Bridgeport and the social impact of our program on the communities we serve.

The work environment is safe, fun, and great to be in. I have a great appreciation for the job, and for what Matthew and Joseph do for the kids from a community they were not a part of but chose to volunteer their time and energy. They are doing for these youth what someone else has done for them when they needed it.

In my opinion, two of the most positive things Your Time To Shine offers the children of Bridgeport is teaching them to be themselves and express it through performance. It is empowering and life changing for most; and the opportunity to be mentored by professional and famous musicians and singers in the United States is an opportunity that many would dream of. As Bob Proctor once said, “A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.” Your Time To Shine is making that a reality for the most vulnerable of our community. They are changing lives, and I am proud to be a part of that change.


Written by

Anna Samake is a multilingual First Generation College Student and Horace Mann Fellowship majoring in Transnational Environmental Science and Political Economy with a focus on Spanish.

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