The Early Beginnings ~ 1963 to 2004
Although Dreams Fulfilled Through Music did not officially become a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization until February 15, 2005, it's mission was developing more than 40 years earlier in 1963 when our CEO, Mary Kathryn Archuleta began her career as a private music teacher in Boulder, Colorado.
From the very beginning, she had always sought the students whom no other teacher would accept those who could not learn easily, those whose fami-lies did not have the income to provide music lessons, those in foster care or affected by any circumstance that would limit extracurricular educational opportunities, especially in music. These early teaching years made a life-long impression on the young teacher as she soon discovered that there were many hidden talents among students whom other professionals had simply "written off" because they didn't "fit the norm" of the typical academically advanced student in an affluent society. As these students began to realize personal success and experience the joy that came with the discovery that came from making their own music, they also found a new avenue for sharing these talents with others less fortunate.
As a professional accordionist and teacher, Mary Kathryn built a 24-member accordion orchestra comprised of gifted student musicians and musicians with special needs and collaborated with Myron Floren of the Lawrence Welk Orchestra to present the first "Christmas 'Round the World" Benefit Concerts for the American Cancer Society in 1969 and 1970. These concerts which presented the musical and cultural traditions of many countries were to become the basis of much of the programming of Dreams Fulfilled Through Music in San Antonio.
By 1976, Mary Kathryn was invited to serve as State Chairperson for the first "Very Special Arts Festival" in Colorado. In 1977, she led the Colorado dele-gation of "Very Special Artists" to attend and participate in the First Annual Very Special Arts Festival in Washington, D.C. where she received recognition from Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
1984 marked the family's return to San Antonio and the participation in the professional music education and local cultural arts community with the establishment of Mary Kay Studios, Creative Music Education.
Very soon, the need to locate teachers willing to provide quality music instruction for students with various learning challenges and hidden talents became more obvious. It was discovered that the problem was not only the lack of teachers with necessary credentials, but also that the majority of the students most in need of specialized instruction were also dependent upon government subsidies for the most basic essentials of food, housing and medical care.
Thus, the need to establish Dreams Fulfilled Through Music as a non-profit agency was becoming more urgent as every year passed. 1999 became the pivotal year in which the long dreamt for musical opportunities would be-come reality. This was year that Kathryn Archuleta (whose passion to bring music to her many friends with disabilities had grown with her since early childhood) - earned the highest honor in Girl Scouting, the Senior Girl Scout Gold Award by producing and directing the "Children With Disabilities Study-ing Music" Benefit Concert on March 19, 1999 at Zion Lutheran Church and raised over $5,000 in cash and in-kind donations to be given to music students with special needs.
A Twist of Fate in 1999
The original plan was to file for 501(c)(3) status as Dreams Fulfilled Through Music, shortly after Kathryn's graduation, but no one could have imagined that within just two months, she too, would become disabled as a result of a freak backpack injury that sprained her neck and trapped her spinal nerves at the C-7 level. Thus plans for DFTM and college were all deferred until her medical situation had stabilized enough for her to continue working to help ease the financial burden of children & adults with special needs so that everyone who wanted to participate in music would have the opportunity to do so.
A New Perspective ~ 2005 to the Present
In the blink of an eye, Mary Kathryn Archuleta's passion that developed in her early years of teaching became a living reality as she, too was the parent of the "disabled adult child" - one of the many to whom she had dedicated her life and professional career. This now dual role of parent and professional brought even greater meaning to the dates of January 13, 2005, when we received IRS Tax-Exempt Status and February 15, 2005, when the State of Texas officially incorporated the new non-profit organization, Dreams Fulfilled Through Music.
Since it's inception, DFTM has performed at an average of 20 to 30 events each year. Always focused on artistic excellence, and performing at community events in each of the San Antonio City Council Districts. The majority of performances throughout the City have been directed toward underserved and low-income audiences - many of whom would rarely have the opportunity to experience a "live musical performance."
That first year of incorporation, five student musicians with Down Syndrome were invited to perform for the "Starry Night Gala" in Detroit, Michigan. Performances at Senior Citizen Centers, Assisted Living Residences and Nursing Homes have always open to the public and include interactive and sing-a-long repertoire. Because many in these audiences are first-generation Americans, a most important aspect of our repertoire is that we include familiar songs of their German, Polish, French and Hispanic heritage. Beginning in 2006, Dreams Fulfilled Through Music provided special music for the Annual Christmas and Valentines' celebrations for the Archdiocesan Ministry for the Elderly and Disabled. Sponsored by its founder, Sister Jo Michelle Sierra, this event continued through 2017, until her passing.
In 2007, The Alamo Angels Accordion Orchestra was established and is recognized as the only one in the world comprised of performers with disabilities and senior citizens who were their mentors. That same year, they were recognized by Mayor Paul Hardberger as local Ambassadors to the American Accordionists' National Festival in Buffalo, NY, where they earned all excellent and superior ratings. Since that time, they have also represented San Antonio at National Festivals in Washington, D.C., New York City, Memphis, TN and Hershey, PA
That same year, Dreams Fulfilled Through Music began a tradition of performing the music of Texas and American Composers for World Autism Awareness Day, as designated by the United Nations and internationally recognized on April 2nd every year to raise awareness about people with autism throughout the world. Annual performances were presented in the Texas State Capitol Rotunda under the sponsorship of Senator Leticia Van de Putte until 2012, and began in 2013 in front of the Alamo in San Antonio sponsored by Senator Jose Menendez. In 2017, the cerebration was moved to Main Plaza where it continues today.
In 2008, Dreams Fulfilled Through Music presented a Summer Festival of Music and the Arts at the Guadelupe Cultural Center with sponsorship by then City Councilwoman, Lourdes Galvan. The 2009 Summer Concert was held at the Jo Long Theatre (Carver Cultural Center) and Emceed by Gordon Hartman, founder of Morgan's Wonderland.
Annual Christmas 'Round the World Concerts have been presented at many venues throughout the city in order to bring greater exposure to the traditional music and celebrations of many nations to the diverse communities within San Antonio.
Starting in 2011, The Alamo Angels Accordion Orchestra became a regular performing group at San Antonio's International Accordion Festival until the event closed in 2016.
Always searching for new ways to bring music to more students with challenges, DFTM began collaboration with ColorSoundation in 2013, opening the pathway for many younger children to learn and perform for others. This led to a second collaborative venture with the Unicorn Centers where a weekly music class has been established.
In addition to specializing in the folk and ethnic music of countries from which so many of the early settlers came to San Antonio, Dreams also provides traditional, classical instruction in piano and voice. Thus, the relevance of our programming to San Antonio's Culture is very broad. The fact that the majority of the participants have all overcome a wide variety of challenges to be able to perform with artistic integrity at many different venues speaks loudly as a unique voice in the San Antonio community.
In 2017, DFTM installed a new Board, following the expired term limits of the previous Board, Javier Morales, M.S.(HPOG Grant Monitor for Alamo Colleges Economic & Workforce Development, Division of Health Profession Opportunity Grants, Frank Villani (CEO of Magik Theatre), and Lewis An-drews (Retired Financial Officer - City of San Antonio) bring to the organization a more focused leadership as we look to future growth and development.
Beginning in 2018, we've also begun to address enabling students, parents and teachers greater access to information about music and accessible music programs through web accessibility.