For Herschel Vaughn, inspiring kids, making music and saving lives are all in a week's work. On top of a full-time job, Herschel spends more than 30 hours a week running Quest Drum & Bugle Corps, a Bedford-Stuyvesant-based organization
he began 10 years ago in an effort to provide youth with a creative way to spend their free time, increase their self-esteem and stay off the streets.
The reality for kids today is stark: approximately one out of five lives in poverty. Through music, friendship, discipline and trust in Herschel Vaughn, the Quest kids have overcome the challenges posed by broken families, poverty, and pressure to join gangs.
"Kids need dignity and pride and that's what they get from this," explains Herschel. "Most come from single parent homes and, while the moms are
trying very hard to do a good job, the eldest kid usually falls through the cracks. I think this is a positive activity for them; it helps them learn
teamwork, humility and accountability. They are
accountable to one another."
The award-winning Quest Drum & Bugle Corps plays every year in parades and competitions from May through August. Many of Herschel's former students have gone onto college, taken on full-time jobs and succeeded at building successful and healthy lives.
"I am proud of the kids,"
says Herschel. "It's an honor to know every person who has come through our door."