By Cheryl Blackerby
Timolin and Casey Cole, the twin daughters of legendary singer Nat King Cole and sisters of the late singer Natalie Cole, are passionate advocates for music education in South Florida’s schools.
They started their nonprofit organization, Nat King Cole Generation Hope, in 2008 when many schools were dropping music programs.
“When we were growing up, music was as fundamental as reading and math and the fact that these kids who couldn’t even afford lunch and were not given that opportunity to express themselves in an art form was very frustrating to us. We just realized we had to do what we could to help change that,” Timolin Cole said.
Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa is lending a hand by hosting the holiday Wonderland Ball, a benefit for Nat King Cole Generation Hope, from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 10. Fire dancers, balloon artists and magicians will entertain guests under tents in Eau Spa’s Serenity Garden.
Money from tickets for the event and donations will go to music programs at area schools.
“It was a challenging time to start a nonprofit in 2008 with the start of a bad economy,” said Casey Cole. “But it was very crucial because Timolin and I were realizing that the art programs in the schools, especially the Title 1 schools, were basically being cut off. We wanted to make a difference in our community in South Florida.”
The sisters, who live near each other in Boca Raton, have helped more than 40 schools and music programs, by supporting mentoring and teaching, collecting and refurbishing used instruments, and supplying new instruments.
Music instruction is far more important than just preparing for a concert, Timolin Cole said. Music classes increase graduation rates; improve early cognitive development, math and reading skills; develop critical thinking and leadership skills, and foster self-esteem and the ability to work cooperatively in teams.
“When we went into these schools and gave instruments to the band programs, math and science teachers would approach us and say their best students were the ones who studied music. So we got it firsthand from the teachers,” Timolin Cole said.
The sisters also want children to have fun with music.
“Our message is not so much about musical excellence but creating happiness and joy for these children,” says Timolin Cole. “We want them to experience the joy of music and with that comes confidence and higher self-esteem.”
Nat King Cole Generation Hope’s projects include a summer music camp at Lynn University and the camp’s Summer Strings Concert, and Guitars Over Guns’ after-school programs.
Having grown up with music in the home and school, the sisters were sympathetic to students who don’t have those opportunities.
“I remember seeing interviews of kids who were not able to play an instrument and creatively express themselves without having to pay extra money for it,” said Timolin Cole. “We want to provide that opportunity.”
For more information or to help Nat King Cole Generation Hope: natkingcolegenhope.org; 213-8209.
If You Go
What: Eau Spa’s Wonderland Ball
When: 5-7 p.m. Dec. 10
Where: Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, 100 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan
Details: Fire dancers, balloon artists and magicians will entertain guests under tents in the spa’s Serenity Garden. Children will watch Alice in Wonderland while parents enjoy the evening’s reception with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. A silent auction will include a $500 Eau Spa gift certificate.
Tickets: $60 per person. “Kids Night Out” at AquaNuts is $80 per child and will be held from 5 to 8 p.m.
Info or to buy tickets: 540-4960 or www.eauspa.com