Modesto Bee Article

Modesto Sound Receives Grant to Discuss Social Issues

Nurses working with people who are homeless. Members of the LGBTQ+ community. Counselors who help abused and neglected children.

These are among the community members whose voices and stories will be recorded in a series of podcasts by Modesto Sound, a nonprofit music studio tucked behind a fast-food restaurant on Yosemite Boulevard near the Gospel Mission.

Modesto Sound recently was awarded $255,000 for the podcast project from the Kern Dance Alliance’s KDA Creative Corps grant program. The studio was among 14 organizations and six individuals in the San Joaquin Valley and foothills to receive a total of $3.38 million in the alliance’s first Creative Corps’ grants.

The funding comes from the state’s California Creative Corps, and the alliance is one of 14 organizations across California picked by the state to issue the grants in their regions.

The goal of Modesto Sound’s California Audio Roots Project includes improving the lives of people who live in the bottom fourth of the California Healthy Places Index, according to a Modesto Sound news release. The index rates neighborhoods on such factors as community health, economics, education, housing and access to health care, as well as air and water quality.

Modesto Sound Executive Director Janet Seay said that means telling the stories of the people who live in much of the 95354 ZIP code, which includes the airport neighborhood, parts of downtown and Yosemite Boulevard.

“The focus is on social justice and community engagement,” Seay said in an interview. “Our goal is to make this little slice of our Modesto heaven better.”

She said that includes the podcasters talking about the social injustices they witness, as well as about solutions.


Seay said she has lined up 20 people for the podcasts and wants to have as many as 80. Those interested can contact her via the Modesto Sound website by clicking on on the contact link. She said each podcaster will receive $150.

A Modesto father with a 27-year-old son will be one of the podcasters. The father, who wanted to be identified only by his first name, Phil, said his son has been homeless for nearly a decade.

Phil said it’s been incredibly frustrating watching and trying to help his son access services. “We often feel they are homeless but we’re helpless,” Phil said about himself and other parents of homeless children. “We often feel helpless. At the end of the day, we’re often left feeling desperate.”

Phil said he hears only his son’s version of his efforts to access help and knows his son does not always give the whole story. Phil does not want to fault the service providers, he said, but he’s heard similar frustrations from other parents who say their loved ones are not getting help.

“There are definitely shortcomings in the system,” Phil said. “But it’s such a complicated issue and problem,” adding that some homeless people are not effective advocates for themselves. Phil said he hopes the podcast spurs more conversations about homelessness and how to help those who are homeless.

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