Songwriter and Performing Artist Teel Montague of the Finders Keepers project, “Finding and Keeping Our Voice through Songwriting,” will share songs by people who, for the first time, have put their thoughts, passions and stories into lyric and melody.
Teel has previously worked with foster children at the Helping Hand Home and individuals at the Austin State Hospital as a form of peer support. This year's efforts have focused on people with intellectual or developmental disabilities and speech impairment.
"This year, there is one story and song that really stand out as critically important,” Teel said. “’Sandy's Song,’ by Juan Munoz and his partner, Susie Angel, is their expression of love and appreciation for their attendant, Sandy.
“I had been working closely with Susie and Juan for four years on a project for the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities, to create peer support for individuals with intellectual or developmental disability (i/dd). Juan and Susie knew about the Finders Keepers Project and asked me to help them write their song. We shared it with Sandy last April, for the anniversary of the first time they all met.
“In June, Sandy died in her sleep while working a night shift supporting Susie. With the shock, heartbreak and sudden loss of necessary attendant care, Susie suffered a quick decline in health and died less than two months later.
“It is difficult to process this series of events, and the loss of Susie. This was a huge loss to the disability community. My hope is that ‘Sandy's Song’ and the story of how it was created will raise awareness of what is a crisis for individuals who rely on attendant care for their survival. The healthcare system failed Sandy, Susie and Juan. Low wages and lack of healthcare support for attendants mean that only those who do it out of love will stick with it. We must recognize the value of the attendant position. Sandy's value to Juan and Susie is a critical message that comes, as critical messages often do, in the form of a song."
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