102 ;e Costco Connection MARCH 2016
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A dose of music
COSTCO MEMBER LEVI Ware was framing a building four years ago when he
received a phone call that made the Seattle
singer-songwriter hang up his tool bag for
good. Seattle Children’s Hospital wanted to
partner with Ware’s Melodic Caring Project
(MCP), a nonprofit that streams live music to
the hospital beds of ill children.
A year earlier, Ware and his wife,
Stephanie, had been inspired to form MCP
melodiccaring.org) after organizing a benefit
concert for a local middle-schooler, Kaydee,
who was undergoing treatment for leukemia.
When the 11-year-old could not attend the
concert because she was quarantined in the
hospital, Ware brought his laptop onstage and
streamed the concert to her bedside, interjecting dedications throughout the event.
“I called Kaydee after the show, and she
was sobbing,” Ware says. “We walked away
knowing this could be something powerful
Seattle Children’s Hospital’s interest in
MCP allowed the Wares to focus their atten-
tion full time on nurturing their dream of
combining the healing properties of music
and technology to lift up children struggling
to overcome challenging illnesses.
Since then, Brandi Carlile, the Black Eyed
Peas, Jason Mraz and many local artists have
In our digital editions
Click here to watch a video
with Jason Mraz. (See page
8 for details.)
performed with MCP, dedicating songs to
children watching their concerts through
live-stream connections to hospital rooms.
Ware, a touring musician who has opened
for legendary acts such as Pearl Jam and
Heart, carefully vets artists for MCP, noting
participating musicians must have the “right
heart, right intent and right content.”
Patient feedback shows the connections
being formed. “Music is what healing sounds
like,” a Canadian patient wrote to the Wares.
“It has the power to bring people back to life.
I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it … I will be for-
ever grateful to the Melodic Caring Project
for stepping in during some of my darkest
days and saying, ‘We’re here for you.’ ”
The Wares have no regrets about giving
up their day jobs to invest in a shared passion.
“We’re inspired to do what we do every day,”
Levi says. “It’s been so worth the stressful
times.” They also credit MCP with “creating a
sense of empathy and compassion” in their
Today 127 hospitals in the U.S., Canada
and overseas receive MCP’s free service,
which is supported by individual donors and
corporate sponsors such as Swedish Medical
Center in Seattle; long-term financial stability
will require additional corporate funding.
—Andrea Downing Peck
Levi Ware plays guitar
for a young patient.
A baby alligator
emerges from its egg
at the Swetsville Zoo.
JUST OUTSIDE FORT Collins, Colorado,
adjacent to the Timnath Costco warehouse, sits the Swetsville Zoo, a whimsical menagerie of over 160 fantastical
creatures and structures made of scrap
metal, discarded farm machinery and
roadside metal finds. They were all built
by the incredibly creative Costco member
Bill Swets, a 74-year-old retired farmer
and volunteer firefighter who began the
“zoo” on his property in 1985. The first
piece was a little bird called Buzzard
George, with a bike fork for legs and a
shovel for a body.
“It’s not unusual for me to wake up
at 2 in the morning and I have one all
designed in my head,” says Swets, a
soft-spoken artisan with a warm smile. “I
never put anything on paper. It is fun to
watch people go though the zoo and pick
out the different parts that I have used in
a very different way. To me it is a hobby,
and if other people get enjoyment out of
it, that’s great.”
Swets’ sense of humor is evident at
the free zoo, which sports many enor-
mous structures such as dinosaurs,
a Volkswagen Beetle towering overhead
on bug-like legs with headlight “eyes”
popping and a hitchhiking prisoner with
a boom box. He says some 50 to 150 peo-
ple visit the Swetsville Zoo each day.
A statue of a big fisherman has a line
cast into the river flowing on the
wooded, green property; a large metal
fish dangles down. “Since the zoo sits on
the river,” Swets explains, “I thought we
should have a fisherman here.”
He adds, “I hate to see old stuff sent
to the scrap yard when it could be made
into something more useful.” Indeed, the
Swetsville Zoo is not only useful, it is a
place that gives smiles, joy and contem-
plation to so many.
— Irene Middleman Thomas