The Gift of Music – Forever 56 Funds Belleville’s Band Program

Marie Perry, Communications Director for the School District of Belleville

From left: Stephanie Meir, Sherry O'Connor, and Steve O’Connor. Photo courtesy of Marie Perry


Memorials come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes and hold special meaning for both the givers and receivers.  In the case of the Forever 56 Foundation, making a difference while honoring the memory of the O’Connor’s son goes hand-in-hand and can be felt and heard throughout their local community.

Following the annual banquet, the Forever 56 Foundation wanted to give back and choosing to help the Belleville School Music program seemed an obvious way to honor Eric O’Connor’s memory.

Steve O’Connor reflects, “Eric loved music.  He was singing and dancing all the time.  We are always looking for projects to donate to and the mattress sale happened to be the same day as our banquet.  We have always appreciated what Steph and Sara have done for the music department at school so it seemed like a great fit.  After talking with Steph and seeing how genuinely appreciative she was for the donation, it made us more confident in our decision.  I knew that they had been fundraising for several years for this set and we decided to make it happen.  I think Nate put it best when he said in a post ‘Forever 56 sees a need and takes care of it when it may not have been addressed otherwise.’  It’s another way we can ‘see and hear’ Eric for years to come.”

For Band Director Steph Meir, knowing how much her community cares about the arts in Belleville is a phenomenal feeling as a teacher.  The Belleville High School Band has been fundraising for a new tympani.  The tympani is like the tuba of the percussion section, it provides depth and support for the winds.  Having a set of high-quality tympani will improve the overall sound of the band while making it easier for the percussionists to tune themselves before the start of a piece, and during the music as well.

“I am so grateful to Steve and Sherry O’Connor for this very generous donation and helping us achieve our goal.  With shrinking budgets, it is impossible to purchase larger items of need for the band out of our general fund.  When we started fundraising for the tympani set in the spring of 2023, I had envisioned it taking us about 4 to 5 years to raise the needed funds.  Thanks to the Forever 56 Foundation, and many other community and business donations, we were able to raise the funds in about 18 months!  My percussion students are so excited to play on the new tympani this month,” says Meir.

The new tympani will be enjoyed and played for many decades and students will get the experience to play on a top-of-the-line instrument thanks to the generosity of the Belleville community and the Forever 56 Foundation.  Their financial gift will bring music and memories to the ears of all who have made this donation of tympani a reality for the Belleville Band program.