Saxophone: an instrument to help the homeless

The sweet and soothing sound of a golden musical instrument could be heard throughout campus. A musician’s talented fingers press on the keys to create a rhythm that is bad to the bone. His music is reminiscent of movies with dim-lit jazz bars, where musicians and people go to be surrounded in the soul-searching rhythm of blues and jazz.

Leo Ricketts, a junior secondary education and history major, picked up the shiny golden-colored saxophone at the age of only 12.

Fascinated by musical instruments and in the freedom of creating music, he did not put it down. Playing became another language to communicate and it wasn’t just a hobby, but a passion.

Now that passion is being used to raise awareness of a social issue. A fan of jazz and soul, Ricketts, a member of the Martin Luther King Scholarship Association (MLKSA), is helping to raise money for the homeless and spread awareness of the issue through panhandling and a representative model.

The mannequin, dressed in casual clothes, is a symbol of the homeless as people who struggle for food, shelter, support and a job, but sometimes might appear stable to others. It is not only recognized outside on-campus, but has also been stationed in Mooney Hall with a box where students and staff can donate clothes and non-perishables.

“Music is a universal language that communicates to everyone. Panhandling served the perfect outlet to communicate our message of awareness and service to fight poverty and homelessness,” Ricketts said.

A fan of Bob Marley, Miles Davis, and Lauren Hill, he played jazz and blues. He added that there are over a half a million homeless people in the nation. Over 58,000 college students reported some type of homeless circumstance on the FAFSA, according to “Financial Aid For Unaccompanied Homeless Youth: A Survey Report,” conducted by the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

Ricketts said that many of the students, staff and faculty have more fortunate circumstances than those who are homeless. Because SHU embraces the premise of servant leadership, members of
the community should not only be aware of homelessness and poverty, but fight to eradicate it.

“As the next leaders and inheritors of our society we have a unique and powerful responsibility in improving our society, by finding solutions to end homelessness. I would like to change the vision of the way to see poverty in America and worldwide,” Ricketts added.

The initiative built up to the organization’s recent event, How Often Mankind Erases their Stores (H.O.M.E.S) on Oct. 21. The event was part of their coordination efforts for their community service and homes for their homeless program.

Nisha Desai can be reached at

Author: Nisha Desai

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