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Katie McQuaid's Scene in Manchester: Download, and do good

Special to The New Hampshire Union Leader

February 24. 2013 8:37PM

Your chance is coming up to download some music and help out the local Meals on Wheels program. Saint Joseph Community Services, Inc., which provides Meals on Wheels and community dining services for Hillsborough County, will be the recipient of the Songs for a Cause campaign March 4 through 10.

Londonderry resident David Bastien was inspired to start Musicians for a Cause and Songs for a Cause after he was laid off from a corporate job in the high-tech sector. He decided to combine his passion for music and songwriting with his technical know-how and help non-profits create awareness and raise money.

The mission of Musicians for a Cause is to harness the power of music to inspire compassion and support for worthy causes. Bastien matches songwriters from all over the country with nonprofit organizations to provide music that brings life to the causes they support.

Songs inspired by specific causes are loaned out to local non-profits a week at a time. In exchange for promoting the songs and the artist to its network of supporters, the non-profit gets to keep the income from the sale of that week's song downloads.

Last summer, Bastien said, the Manchester Animal Shelter helped pilot Songs for a Cause through a campaign that sold downloads of songs about saving animals. Bastien said he learned from that campaign and has made some tweaks since then. He now has several campaigns running in various places around the country, including one for autism awareness and another for a New York organization that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Maribeth McCue, development manager for Meals on Wheels, said the organization has many people who support the program, but Bastien, "has a unique and special way of contributing to us through song."

While the songs for the Meals on Wheels campaign will be available for fundraising campaigns at Meals on Wheels programs all over the country, they were all inspired by the experiences of the local Meals on Wheels staff and volunteers.

"Together, we wrote down phrases and words describing our Meals on Wheels program, clients and volunteers. We used our voices to show their pride of serving our country, their history of working in the mills and their strict upbringing of their children. Our task was to put their long, colorful lives into words," said McCue about the brainstorming session she and the Meals on Wheels staff had with Bastien.

"Dave put together our thoughts and made them into songs. Beautiful, emotional and proud songs about the elderly here in our community. He then went to Nashville and had them recorded into music downloads to help us raise money."

You can support the local Meals on Wheels organization by visiting from March 4 through 10 and downloading the music or just making a donation. My favorite aspect of the program is that you can buy multiple copies of songs and give them out to friends. This lets you support the charity and spread awareness at the same time. If there is one thing that makes me feel better than giving, it's bragging about my giving.

To join a Songs for a Cause campaign visit If you are interested in partnering with Musicians for a Cause to raise money for your non-profit, contact Bastien at or 434-2853.

So I thought I could dance

I am one of those people who watches "Dancing with the Stars" and thinks I can do any of the moves these celebrities seem to be having so much trouble with. I am also the first one on the dance floor at weddings. Imagine my surprise when I took my first Zumba class on Tuesday and discovered I cannot dance.

Zumba is the Latin-inspired dance fitness program being offered at gyms and dance studios all over the place. Tuesday's class was held at Royal Palace Dance Studio on South Willow Street in a room walled with mirrors so I could actually see what I looked like. The only word to describe it is "awkward." The teacher was my friend Jen Hebert, a gorgeous woman who moves like Jennifer Lopez. When I tried to copy her, I looked like Ed Grimley.

But with Zumba it doesn't matter what you look like, or that you might move in the wrong direction sometimes or all the time. What matters is that you move, burn some calories, and have a ton of fun. That is why Zumba attracts people of all ages, sizes and fitness levels. Hebert teaches at several locations, including Vive La Dance and Fitness on Hanover Street, and for students at Southern New Hampshire University.

Hebert was featured in an earlier Scene when she and her husband, AJ, opened Roca Kidz Club, a Thursday night Christian gathering for kids in the Somerville Street neighborhood where they get a nice meal and a lot of fun. The Heberts are the parents of two teenagers and foster parents to two more.

On Friday, March 29, Hebert will combine her love of Zumba and helping kids in a Zumbathon to raise money for Roca Kidz Club and the New Hampshire Foster and Adoptive Parent Association. The event wil be held at Southern New Hampshire University's Athletic Complex from 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and can be purchased at If space permits, they will also be available at the door for $20.

Bee a supporter

If you are an adult who wants to have your intelligence challenged, then you have to join me at the New Hampshire State Spelling Bee this Saturday. This is the 60th anniversary of the bee produced by the Union Leader. Nearly 200 of the state's top spellers in third through eighth grade will gather at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord to spell words that you and I have probably never heard. After a written round in the morning, about 30 spellers will move on to the live, final round, which is open to the public at 1 p.m. For more information, visit

NH365.ORG Event of the Week

There are many events during Manchester's school vacation week, but we are focusing on the city library's Winterfest - Critters N' Creatures on Thursday at 2 p.m. The show stars a chinchilla, marble polecat, large lop-eared rabbit, bearded dragon, large tortoise and a snake. Bring your cameras and discover some unusual facts about these animals. The event is free, but space is limited. For more information on this and other fun things to do in New Hampshire during school vacation week, visit

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