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Sophia’s Heart Rocklin

Apr 01, 2014 01:01PM ● By Style

Coleen Gascon, Instructor Elle Spinning and Emery Mena - Photos by Dante Fontana - © Style Media Group

by Morgan Cásarez

From musical theater to piano lessons, Rachel Storment was always involved in some aspect of the arts growing up. She says encouragement from her instructors gave her the confidence to pursue her life’s passions, and she was saddened to see some of her peers fall short of their potential due to financial constraints. “Many of them simply ‘got by’ in school, never went to college, and were never given the opportunity to truly excel in who they were created to be,” she says. “Financial burden should never hinder a child’s ability to dream, grow, develop and soar.”

Storment aspired to create a program that would offer students no-cost, professional-quality artistic and academic training, and in 2012, she found her opportunity. That was the year she reached out to Danny Gokey, American Idol finalist and creator of the Sophia’s Heart Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring children through the arts. In the fall of 2013, Storment launched Sophia’s Heart Rocklin*, which provides academic and performing arts opportunities to students throughout the greater Sacramento area free of charge.

“Sophia’s Heart gives students the opportunity to engage with adults who are passionate about helping kids express themselves and develop their artistry,” explains Jennifer Martin, one of the program’s acting instructors. “I’m proud to be a part of a company that runs on the hearts of volunteers who have no other agenda than to love on students and help them unlock their potential.”

Sponsored by Destiny Christian Church, the non-profit program is open to local students in grades 4-12 and relies exclusively on donations and volunteers. Following an audition process, participants may enroll in weekly classes ranging from Media Arts and Computer Technology to Youth Choir. In addition to attending scheduled lessons, students are required to attend study hall or tutoring (coordinated by Storment’s husband), participate in performances, and sign behavioral contracts affirming their respect for teachers, classmates and church property.

According to parent volunteer Heather Atherton, the goal is to have as many as 100 children participate in the program each semester. She and her fellow volunteers also hope to see their children engage in performance opportunities beyond the Destiny stage. “I’ve seen my daughter blossom in her confidence as a singer, dancer and overall performer,” Atherton shares. “I also feel blessed to have her be a part of a program where she has earned her way through talent and grades, and is rewarded for that with tuition-free instruction.”

In June, Destiny will host a recital and awards night to celebrate the end of the program’s second semester, and Storment encourages young performers to attend the next semester’s auditions in September.

“My involvement with Sophia’s Heart Rocklin has impacted my husband and me greatly,” Storment shares. “We have grown in our faith and grown together, as we are rallied around and encouraged by the families we are serving.”

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*Although inspired by Danny Gokey’s work, Sophia’s Heart Rocklin is not directly affiliated with the Sophia’s Heart Foundation. Sophia’s Heart Rocklin plans to be renamed prior to the start of its Fall 2014 semester.