Julie LevenLeven

Three years ago, Julie Leven of Arlington went to the Pine Street Inn and said she wanted to try performing classical music in the shelter. That early experiment has now grown into Shelter Music, Boston, an enterprise that regularly brings professional musicians of the highest caliber to four area shelters.

It also led to an award.

The Philanthropic Initiative and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh awarded five citizens with cash grants in recognition of their outstanding community service at this year’s Boston Neighborhood Fellows award ceremony. Among the five is Leven, Shelter Music, Boston.

The Boston Neighborhood Fellows program is generously funded by an anonymous donor and implemented by the Philanthropic Initiative.
Neighborhood Fellows are ordinary citizens engaged in extraordinary efforts to transform lives, improve their community and make Boston a better place to work and live. Each award recipient receives a three-year, $30,000 unrestricted grant paid in annual $10,000 installments.
A guest described Shelter Music as "water for my soul," a news release says. Leven is the impresario who makes it all happen, bringing the musicians together and being a liaison with the shelters.

The other winners are:

Erika Rodriguez, Beantown Society, Jamaica Plain: The co-founder of the Curley Project, a violence prevention program at a Jamaica Plain middle school;

Maria Alamo, Roberto Clemente 21 League, Jamaica Plain: She is the force behind countless community projects in Jamaica Plain and the Dudley Street neighborhood of Roxbury.

Geoffrey Bynoe, Boys and Girls Club, Boston: He is the athletic director of the Yawkey Club of the Boys and Girls Club Boston;

Kendra Lara, The City School & Beantown Society, Jamaica Plain: She works for the Boston Public Health Commission, helping to lead its racial justice work.

The Philanthropic Initiative is an advisory firm that helps companies, foundations, families and individuals find innovative ways to maximize the impact of their giving. Working around the globe, it partners with clients to plan, create, implement and evaluate customized philanthropic strategies and is also committed to promoting and advancing strategic philanthropy through cutting-edge research and training. Since 1989, it has directed more than $1 billion in philanthropy and influenced billions more on behalf of its clients.

For more information about The Philanthropic Initiative visit www.tpi.org or check out our blog Deep Social Impact.

This story was published Wednesday, April 30, 2014.