Guitars Not Guns, Virginia Chapter
Guitars Not Guns (GnG) is a children’s charity that provides an after school music and mentoring program for at-risk and underprivileged youth ages 10-18. GnG was founded in July 2000 in San Jose California. The founder and current President/CEO Ray Nelson and his wife Louise participated in the Foster Care system there and they were both struck by the availability and variety of after-school programs for youth in need of support and services. Ray, a lifelong musician came up with the concept for the program. He understood the value of a music education and using borrowed and donated instruments he began teaching guitar lessons to these children in San Jose. The value of the service he was providing was soon recognized; volunteers were attracted to it; and the program gradually spread to neighboring counties. In 2006 the program began to spread to other states including Virginia. Today GnG is operating in several states and Canada. Our mission is to provide opportunity, inspiration and empowerment to at-risk and underprivileged youth. We help instill in these youth the confidence and character necessary for them to grow into productive members of society and responsible adults. GnG’s method is to engage the youth’s creative potential with a structured music program, taught by caring adults in a safe environment, and then coupled that with our mentoring in music-related careers. We provide them free guitar lessons with the belief that the art of music connects the child to higher life goals and ambitions. We are a community based organization that provides these youth a positive alternative to the self-destructive behaviors of substance abuse, crime, truancy, and gang activity. GnG is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. We are not anti-gun; we are anti-gun violence.