News / Edmonton

Edmonton shop grants homeless teen's Christmas wish

A local youth shelter is singing a shop owner's praises after a symphony of generosity.

Bella Music Ltd. owner Jim Doucet donated a violin this week for a young client of the Youth Empowerment and Support Services (YESS) shelter.

Kevin Tuong/for Metro

Bella Music Ltd. owner Jim Doucet donated a violin this week for a young client of the Youth Empowerment and Support Services (YESS) shelter.

Scrawled in neat cursive on lined paper, an unidentified young woman staying at an Edmonton youth shelter had a captivating Christmas wish.

Posted on Twitter Tuesday evening by the Youth Empowerment and Support Services (YESS), the image was one of the “wants and needs” lists the shelter asks their clients to write every year during the holidays.

“Her wants were a violin, violin books, and a case to put the violin in. Her needs were love, written like five times,” YESS Supervisor Delalie Mortotsi said.

“I saw that and was like, ‘I can’t really buy you love, but I can try to make this other one happen for you.’”

The image was shared dozens of times by community members eager to help find a violin for the 19-year-old woman.

With a budget of only $50, Mortotsi contacted Bella Music Ltd. owner Jim Doucet to see if he could help out. When she arrived at his west end shop on Wednesday, he had a handcrafted, $300 violin waiting for her at a special price.

“He wrote $0 at the end of the invoice,” Mortotsi said. “I was like, ‘wow, that’s amazing.’”

But making music accessible to everyone isn’t new for Doucet, who’s been donating violins and instrument parts to music schools and students in Cuba for 10 years.

Last year, he gave nine violins to music students on the Paul Band First Nation.

“I have violins, so it’s something I can do,” Doucet said. “If I’m not using them, I mean, what the heck — somebody should be using them. It’s a good feeling, and that’s what Christmas is all about.

“They don’t have to look pretty. Some of these old beaters are actually the best.”

Doucet still picked what he described as the nicest violin for the young woman. He found a bow and a hard case, added a block of rosin and a cleaning cloth and played it himself for 20 minutes just to make sure everything was just alright.

Mortotsi won’t say much about the violin’s recipient to protect her identity. She did say that she first started coming to the youth shelter in the summer, isn’t from Canada and played the violin when she was younger.

Mortotsi said she wasn’t scheduled to work Christmas day, but will be coming in to see the look on this young woman’s face — and those of some of the other 300 youth the shelter serves every year — as they open their gifts on Christmas morning.

“I’m super excited,” she said. “Everybody in the community has been really great with their support. It’s been overwhelming.”

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