Capital Region Cares Capital Region Cares 2017-2018 - Page 31

Alex Bonilla, 15, strums his six-string guitar at his home in Sacramento. Bonilla is one of the youngest members of the Sacramento Guitar Society Orchestra. Bonilla mentioned the Society’s nonprofit work — such as helping fellow students who lack access to instruments — as the rationale be- hind his fundraising performances. To date, Bonilla estimates he’s raised around $2,000. And Bonilla says the orchestra’s impact is even greater. “To the community in general, I think it brings not just a sense of home, but it also brings music, and that’s something that a lot of places don’t have the advantage of having,” Bonilla says. “It’s just a really great thing to have.” The orchestra also acted as a per- sonal catalyst: Before he was a mem- ber, Bonilla lacked familiarity with performing. But now, Bonilla — who also performs in guitar competitions and volunteers at the Sacramento Pre- paratory Music Academy as a teacher — credits the orchestra, and its “open stage” shows, with providing a setting where he could perform in a situation devoid of stress, while also receiving feedback that has helped him become more adept at the instrument. The orchestra’s open stage shows happen directly after rehearsals, if there’s no guest performer scheduled. “It’s really nice for me to see these players, to see them grow, you know, as a result of their work with the or- chestra,” O’Connor says. “And to see them have a chance to connect musi- cally with the community and to even just be able to show off a little bit for some of their family that they invite to the concert, that’s a real rewarding feeling.” And that feeling is in harmo- ny with Bonilla’s gratitude, as well. “I’m just really happy that they were willing to welcome me right in despite my age, that’s a really great thing for me,” Bonilla says. “I really appreciate it from them.” n Willie Clark is a writer, editor, photographer and co-host of the 8 Bit Awesome gaming podcast. On Twitter @_WillieClark or willieclark.contently. com. | 2017 CAPITAL REGION CARES 31