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Jefferson Award Winner: Lee Anna Rasar

Chippewa Valley (WQOW) – Local nursing home residents, minors in detention and inmates get music therapy and anger management classes partially led by one woman. Every day but Saturday, Lee Anna Rasar is volunteering.

That is why she is September’s Jefferson Award winner.

Rasar has always been the musician in her family.

In college, she had to volunteer and saw her first music therapy session.

“I thought man, this is what I’ve always wanted to do and never even knew existed,” Rasar said.

Her passion ended up becoming her profession.

“I love it,” Rasar said. “Students go with me, colleagues go with me, my friends go with me.”

Now, she is 31 years in at UW-Eau Claire which is a feat in and of itself. She spends at least 20 hours a week teaching music therapy at the local juvenile detention center, the Eau Claire County Jail, nursing homes and hospitals.

She teaches others to use music for self-expression or reflection.

‘Some of them have said it’s really been a key that’s helped them think about things in a different way and really make a change.

She also helps spark memories.

“In the nursing home, a lot of times people have confusion, they might have dementia” Even six months later I can come in and play the intro to a song, and they would play the exact rhythm pattern that was associated with it. So that’s new short-term memory. The music wakes that up,” Rasar said.

Most of all, she makes a mark on the people she helps.

“It makes me be fulfilled. I feel like every single day, I’m doing something to make a change in someone else’s life that’s really meaningful and beautiful,” Rasar said.

Her goal is to keep spreading the healing power of music to people who really need it.

Her weekly schedule includes the juvenile detention center, HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital, Eau Claire County Jail, Prairie Point and Chippewa Manor.

click here to nominate them.If you know someone in the community making a difference through volunteering,

Savanna Tomei

Savanna is the 6 p.m. producer and co-anchor, and also anchors the 10 p.m. newscast.

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