Shirley Peck, a volunteer with Springmoor Life Care Retirement Community since 1984, will receive the prestigious 2012 LeadingAge North Carolina Award that honors excellence in service to the elderly. She will be recognized at a ceremony
at the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center, New Bern, NC on May 15th, 2012.
When Shirley Peck relocated to Raleigh from Stamford, CT with her husband Bill in 1984, she was looking to exercise her musical muscle and directorial skills to serve her new community. Entertaining and helping others find the musician within them had long been a passion of Shirley’s.
She found herself with plenty of spare time, surrounded by strangers while her husband worked. Without a close knit group of musician friends surrounding her, Shirley ached to find a way to fill the hours doing what she loved best – entertaining. At the same time, serving others and enhancing people’s lives was of utmost importance to her.
Shirley passed by Springmoor Life Care Retirement Community nearly every day for weeks without giving it a second glance. One day, while singing along to a familiar tune on the radio and in a particularly good mood, she took a leap of faith and turned into the community entrance – as if beckoned. She pulled into the parking lot and approached the woman at the front desk.
“I’m Shirley,” she introduced herself. “I’d like to volunteer here. But the only thing I know is music. Do you think there’s anything I can do?” Within an hour the volunteer coordinator, dozens of residents and the manager had officially christened her Springmoor’s new “Volunteer Pianist.”
What started 27 years ago with a few hours a week playing piano at meals has turned into a musical initiative that has changed and enhanced the lives of hundreds of residents and thousands of audience members.
In 1984, her first year in this role, Shirley recruited seven amateur singing volunteers and formed the group “HOT SHOTS.” Wearing homemade costumes, the group sang, danced, played instruments and entertained residents. Visitors, family and employees would join in and sing along to the familiar songs the group played. Soon, the HOT SHOTS were getting requests to perform outside Springmoor, so they took their show on the road, traveling to churches, nursing facilities and community events. Among the notable masters of ceremonies was Raleigh’s own Ira David Woods and North Carolina’s governor Jim Martin.
Shirley can transform a small group of amateur singers into a choir by transposing written music into lively songs. With her coaching, the senior singers are able to bring the songs to life. Limited only by the capacity of the bus used to transport the group and their instruments, the HOT SHOTS had 22 members by 1990.
Over the years, nearly 300 Springmoor residents have called themself a “HOT SHOT.” With 1250 rehearsals, 326 performances, and 27 years under her belt, what’s next for volunteer musician Shirley Peck?
I’d love to reach even more people with our seasonal program, “Springmoor Presents.” I’m on a mission to prove to people that it’s never too late to become a star.”