Hope University transforms the lives of adults with intellectual disabilities through the arts.
Paul Kuehn's voice was the spark that ignited Hope University. One day during his high school music class, special education music teacher, Doris Walker, was thinking out loud, trying to remember what key a particular song was in. The quiet, shy, blind young man with autism at the back of the classroom spoke up, "that would be the key of 'G' Mrs. Walker." That made Mrs. Walker take notice of the young Paul Kuehn, and she wondered what else he was capable of. She asked him to sing, and the rest is history. She formed a band called the Hi Hopes around Paul, and they developed a repertoire of songs.
When faced with the fact that these talented band members would have nowhere to continue playing once they graduated from high school, she rallied around the families and asked for their support to create what we now know as Hope University. The program began with 8 students, all Hi Hopes members, and met in two rooms in the rear of a strip mall shopping center in Anaheim, California, and in 1979, Hope University became the first organization of its kind to provide arts programming to adults with intellectual disabilities.
Today, Hope University's offerings have expanded to include all art forms, and we serve 66 adults with intellectual disabilities. The Hi Hopes continue to perform, and just like any professional band, they have their own trailer with their name on it, and they have recorded countless albums. Hope University's students participate in art exhibitions, perform in the hand-bell choir or vocal choir, perform dances and dramas, and learn to play instruments, and more. There are many very talented artists and performers here at Hope University, but opportunities are available to anyone who is interested in or motivated by the arts.
We thank you Paul Kuehn, for your voice, and thank you Doris Walker for your vision.
Come For A Tour
We welcome anyone who would like to come for a visit to Hope University, whether you are interested in attending our program, or you just want to see the amazing work we do here. Simply call and request a date and time to visit, and we will take you on a tour. A tour is required for anyone interested in attending our program. After your tour, if you are still interested in attending the program, assessment dates may be scheduled. Please see FAQs for more information about enrollment.
Contact information, Hours, Address
Program Hours: 8:30am to 2:30pm
Mailing address, for donations and inquiries:
Hope University is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Your tax deductible donations will enable our artists and performers to continue to develop their artistic talent.
Visit our blog: www.hopeuniversity.blogspot.com
Board of Directors
- Chairman/PresidentCarolyn Buon-Cristiani
- Secretary/TreasurerCarol Stone
- Ed Ehrhart
- Mike Guzijan
- Ruth Hollis
- Nick Latimer
- Elena Marty
- Kandy Williams. J.D.
Artwork by Lori Reyes
Janice Reyes has served as a member of the board of directors of Hi Hopes Identity Discovery Foundation, Inc. and is one of the founding parents. She became Executive Director two years after the retirement of the founder, Doris Walker, and the resignation of the interim director. She previously owned and administrated a retail travel agency and a Mexico wholesale tour operation for twenty five years. She is the parent of a daughter who attends the program.
Artwork by Patty Mount
Kim Kosaki holds an MFA degree in dance/movement therapy from the University of California, Los Angeles. She also has a BS degree in applied mathematics, with a minor in dance. Kim began as an instructor at Hope University over ten years ago and has since moved into the position of program director. Having a background in both movement therapy and classical ballet has given Kim the ability to create unique, population-specific choreography. As Hope's program director, she has cultivated a synergistic relationship between service coordinators, clients, parents, and care providers. Kim also coordinates student and community socialization, provides detailed and individualized goals for each student, and is responsible for making sure that through meeting their individual goals each student reaches his or her full potential.
Shelley RuggThorp grew up in Long Beach, CA, in a home full of art, music dance and drama. Therefore, it has always been difficult for her to specialize, although she did receive an MFA in Drawing and Painting from California State University, Long Beach in 1991. While there, she also studied performance art with Rachel Rosenthal. In 2001, RuggThorp won a fellowship for her work in performance art. Shelley also received grants from the City of Los Angeles to work with youth on large-scale visual art projects. As a founding member of the Long Beach-based artist group, FLOOD, she helps to produce Long Beach's annual SoundWalk event. She also sings with her band, Shake and the Chantoosies, and has worked at Hope University since 1996.
Molly Smythe is our charming and friendly Administrative Assistant. She has found a home at Hope University where she has worked for nine years. She has over sixteen years of service at various educational facilities working with all ages. Molly's duties range from general administrative to record keeping and working with the Regional Center of Orange County. She makes things run smoothly for us here at Hope University.
Bree first came to work at Hope U as a volunteer during the summer of 2011, assisting students during the handcrafts studio with felting and knitting projects. Bree loved working with the Hope U students so much that she sought employment with the program upon completion of her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Denver. In January of 2013 Bree officially joined the team as our Volunteer Coordinator and also assists with teaching often to stay connected with the students. Her dream is that many more can experience the joy of working with this population by expanding the volunteer opportunities at Hope U.
Direct Care Staff:
Artwork by Lori Reyes
Sandra D. Carter has been an instructor at Hope University since 1996, and her broad and varied background makes her an invaluable asset to the program. Sandra was certified as a Horticultural Therapist from Merritt College in Oakland, California, received a Master Floral Designer designation from the Florists Transworld Delivery Association and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara. She is a working fiber-artist who has shown in galleries from Los Angeles to New York, and her sculptures have been used on television and movie sets in Hollywood. Sandra's literary work has been published in numerous contemporary periodicals and anthologies. She is a member of the American Craft Council, The American Horticultural Society, The American Horticultural Association and the Therapeutic Landscapes Network and is currently involved in the development of knitting as therapy.
Artwork by Jason Rosales
Renée Cortez, MM, MT-BC is thrilled to be part of the faculty at Hope University, which offers daily opportunities to serve and make a difference through music. Her work with the Orange County Children's Therapeutic Arts Center has been featured in national and regional news outlets. Accolades in the fields of music therapy, music education, and singing include the American Institute of Fine Arts Award, the FORTE Award for Excellence in Music Education, the Western Region American Music Therapy Association Student Songwriting Award, the American Liszt Society Award, and the Grand Prize in the Los Angeles International Liszt Competition. Renée can regularly be heard singing professional engagements at the regional, national, and international level.
Artwork by Sharon Mauck
Born in Australia, raised in Chicago, Steve had his first paid drum gig at age 13. After high school, the part time community, church and school dances gave way
to the milieu of jazz, rock, R&B, Blues, night clubs and concert halls that made up the Chicago music scene of the 1970's.
Steve eventually found his way to Los Angeles and then NYC where he continued to perform live and record, ultimately resulting in some limited commercial airplay and the opening of 69 WOOSTER recording Studios, which Steve and a business partner built from scratch in a Soho(NYC) district loft in the 1980's. He co-owned and operated that endeavor for 5 years.
Upon getting an offer from a prior music colleague in L.A., Steve sold his interest in the studio and returned to California where he decided to return to school to finish his degree.
After receiving a BA with honors in Psychology and Music, with graduate credits in Education, he began teaching for the Long Beach Unified School District. Summers at this time were usually spent teaching ESL to Japanese businessmen and engineers, volunteering, giving lessons, traveling and playing guitar or drums in LA, Chicago, or Australia. The latter leading to a three year stint of living in Australia, reconnecting with family and building a house in the outback with his brother while playing in coastal towns of New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania.
Steve started working at hope in 2003 after being invited to a Hi Hopes event by a dear friend on staff there. "Their performance was an inspiration and I knew I had to work with these folks".
Artwork by Chih Tseng
Erin graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in history and coursework in fine art, design, and disability studies. She is currently a graduate student at Chapman University in communication disorders. At Hope U, Erin works to foster a comfortable and enjoyable environment for the artists to process ideas and create artwork. Her goal is to help stimulate creativity, experiment with various mediums, and mentor the artists' natural talents.
Artwork by Miguel Aldaz
Susie Kwon's background makes her a strong part of the Hope University team. Susie is an accomplished pianist, and has received a BS in Music, an AS in Piano Pedagogy along with an MA in Education with an emphasis in Community counseling. She is a Board Certified Music Therapist, and is licensed as a Professional Counselor in Michigan. She is working toward becoming licensed here in California as well. At Hope University, Susie works with the Handbell and Vocal Choirs, runs music therapy sessions and more. Susie teaches piano here at Hope University, and she also gives private lessons.
Artwork by Miguel Aldaz
Lisa earned her MFA in Drawing and Painting from California State University, Long Beach and her BFA in Painting and Drawing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been working with the artists at Hope University since 2007, guiding their creative impulses in drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture as well as collaborating on set designs for Hope U productions. Lisa also studied Waldorf Education including Eurythmy at the Waldorf Institute of Southern California. She teaches a Waldorf inspired movement class at Hope U utilizing aspects of Eurythmy. As an artist Lisa believes in a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to art making, aimed at building community and developing the self.
Artwork by Tanette Tuttle
SuzAnne holds a MFA in Theatre Management from CSULB and a BA from Anderson University in Indiana, where she studied theatre, voice, and writing. She's taught at Anderson University, California Baptist University, CSULB, and Arts & Services for Disabled. From 2008-2011, SuzAnne served as Education Director/Marketing and Development Manager for Long Beach Opera. A classically trained actor and singer, SuzAnne's favorite roles include Cathie in The Last Five Years, Papagena in The Magic Flute, and Anne in The Diary of Anne Frank. Directing credits include A Streetcar Named Desire for Anderson University, Brundibár for Long Beach Opera education, and Much Ado About Nothing for Pacific Art Theatre, which she founded in 2002. SuzAnne is also very involved at East West Community Church in Anaheim, where her husband serves as pastor.
Artwork by Howard Miller
Steven Noguera joined the Hope University family in 1999. Until that time, Mr. Noguera was a successful entrepreneur and business owner. But after being struck by personal tragedy when his only son lost his life to spinal meningitis, Mr. Noguera was inspired to redirect the focus of his entire life and career. A professional musician since the age of 12, he has performed all across the United States and composed and recorded over 60 pieces of music. He has now dedicated himself to helping people with intellectual disabilities, and lends his musical talents to inspire them and expand their vision of the world around them.
Artwork by Maurica Bobb
Vera has worked at Hope University since 2006 as a full time music therapist, academic instructor and co-director of the Handbell Choir. Vera also enjoys playing flute and various types of music in her local community. Vera received her B.M. in music therapy in 2004 from the Berklee College of music in Boston, Massachusetts. She completed her music therapy internship at Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, California in 2004.
Artwork by Sharon Mauck
Julie Ford Reister currently teaches our Yoga, Fitness, Reading and Video Production classes. Certified to teach in 1998 through Yoga for the Special Child ©, Julie taught Yoga at Down Syndrome Association of OC, United Cerebral Palsy, and privately. Julie studied Film and Video at Orange Coast College. Her documentary, "Possibilities: A Tribute to Special Olympics" was featured at Laguna Beach Art Museum in The OsCene: Contemporary Art and Culture in OC, November 2004 through February 2005. Julie started teaching at Hope in 1995, and has been a full time and part-time teacher, substitute teacher, or volunteer.
Artwork by Jim Lin
After receiving a Master's degree in Design Studies from Central St. Martin's College of Art and Design in London, UK, Amy Sargeant taught fine art at the university level in Portland, Oregon for seven years before deciding she had endured enough rain for a lifetime, and moved to southern California seeking sun. In addition to enjoying teaching at Hope University, Amy currently holds teaching positions at Chapman University as well as Saddleback College. She is also the mother to her very own little aspiring artist, her three-year old son, Jasper True.
Artwork by Alexis D'Luna
Michele started out as a visual artist with an M.F.A. degree from Rochester Institute of Technology. She has shown her work internationally through various shows/competitions. She is a published artist and designer who has pieces in private/public collections. Michele is an entrepreneur who started her own business in 2006 ~ the Michele Vavonese Studio. Here she creates original art and prints, along with donating works to various advocacy groups. In 2011 the MVStudio was chosen to be one of the top "Compassionate Businesses in California" by Animal Acres. Michele considers it an honor to be able to teach her craft and has been teaching for over 19 years. Other professional honors include: the 2006 Citizen Community Leadership Award from Long Beach's 8th District Councilmember Rae Gabelich and Alumni Board of Directors; California Division for R. I. T. (1995 ~ present).
At Hope University, our goal is to provide a well-rounded program that develops all aspects of each individual artistically, academically, behaviorally, and socially. To achieve this goal, we offer the students a wide range of classes including: art, choir, hand-bells, music therapy, dance, drama, computer skills, academics, yoga, and much more. Through these classes, we strive to help each student reach their fullest potential. They gain a greater sense of self-worth by developing their talents and capabilities and using them to give back to the community in a variety of different ways. Through public performances of music, dance, drama, and exhibitions of art, Hope University showcases the remarkable talents of its students and demonstrates their potential to contribute to and assume integrated roles within the community. Hope University students inspire the human spirit and render hope to those whose loved ones may have similar disabilities.
In concert with our outstanding course offerings, Hope University's nurturing environment is clearly the most essential part of the program. We are proud to have gathered a strong team of highly-qualified and dedicated staff that works hard to provide a caring and personalized environment for each student. The direct-care staff is highly educated; most have degrees in the arts, psychology, or a combination of the two. More impressive than their educational background, however, is their incredible drive to provide the best program for the students. They motivate, encourage, and challenge each individual to be successful, and work together as a team to foster each student's talents and strengths.
In addition to classes, performances, and art exhibitions, students are given an opportunity to participate in a number of social and educational activities throughout the year including fieldtrips, on-site guest artist performances and workshops, and seasonal parties.
To learn more about enrolling in our program, please go to the FAQs section.
Our programs include:
Studio Arts offer students the opportunity to explore a wide variety of art mediums. They explore drawing and painting, computer art, printmaking, collage, papier maché and more. Artworks that are created in studio may end up going to exhibition, or may be featured on a greeting card or calendar page, as just a few examples. Often, studio artists become the behind the scenes support for performances, designing and creating props and sets.
Artists in Hope Handmade learn and practice such skills as knitting and hand stitching and beading, among other things. There is something for every skill level, so just about everyone pitches in to support our greatest source of social enterprise: the making and selling of fine crafts. Products include hand-felted beaded jewelry, knitted and felted handbags, hand stitched and beaded stuffed characters, mosaic mirrors, just to name a few.
We actively pursue professional level visual arts projects for the students of Hope University. One such project just completed is our Integrity House Mural Project. This 15 foot high by 70 foot long painted and mosaic mural is on the outside of the building that houses the Integrity House program for adults with cognitive disabilities, located in Santa Ana, CA.
Hi Hopes is a performing group of professional musicians with prodigious musical talent, including some musical savants. Performing since 1972, the Hi Hopes have recorded many albums, which are sold at their shows or through the Hope U Shop. Hi Hopes are available to book for your next big event!
Ring & Sing is a performance ensemble combining Hope University's vocal and hand-bell choirs. It is about 24 members strong, and they do outreach performances for senior centers, schools and corporate parties.
The hand-bell choir has 18 members, and each member is responsible for playing one or more bells, each having their own special note. Students learn a variety of ways to play the hand-bells, and rhythmic exercises are incorporated into the learning process.
There are over a dozen men and women who make up the choir, creating beautiful 3-part vocal harmonies. Choir members not only learn to harmonize, but also to develop their tone through breathing and vocal techniques. Their repertoire is diverse and seasonal. Choir members are also given opportunities to sing solos. Singing in a choir helps each member increase their listening skills and learn to work together as a team.
Our students have the opportunity to study various musical instruments such as keyboard, drums, violin, flute and accordion. Along with learning the notes, music theory and ear training are also taught. Students have the opportunity to play as a soloist or as part of an ensemble. Classical to contemporary styles of music are taught.
Dance classes give students an opportunity to learn basic dance steps as well as develop their ability to creatively express themselves through movement. Through these classes, original choreography is developed and rehearsed for public performances.
In drama classes, students work on developing their stage performance skills including stage presence, vocal projection, development of character, movement on stage, and how to work as a team to tell a story theatrically through improvisation. Actors perform at Hope University special events such as our annual holiday production.
Music therapy is a very important aspect of our program. Many people with disabilities respond to music and blossom through the vehicle of music. Music therapy helps with language and speech development, social skills and more. Music therapy students often come to Hope University for their field work, observation hours and site training.
We actively pursue professional level performing arts projects for the students of Hope University. One such project garnered Hope University grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, Department of Justice, the Allergan Foundation, and the Pacific Life Foundation. The project was a collaboration between the artists of Hope University and the performance art ensemble, MLuM, led by director, Marco Schindelmann. Out of that process, an original multi-media performance and sound art piece entitled, Beau Monde Float, Thirteen Six Views of Sound Beauty was created.
Academics classes are offered to our students to encourage the development of independence and everyday living skills. These classes include reading, math, money skills, and computer skills.
We also offer a selection of classes that go beyond the arts and academics. These life enrichment classes introduce new experiences and opportunities to our students that they might not otherwise have. For example, our program currently offers knitting, yoga, and nutrition among the other many life enrichment classes. These classes however, do rotate and change periodically depending on the needs of the program and the interests of the students.
Where is Hope University located?
800 S. Lemon Street, Anaheim, CA 92805. We are located in Orange County, Southern California, near Disneyland.
What are the hours of operation?
The day program operates from 8:30AM - 2:30PM, Monday-Friday.
Are part time schedules accepted?
Yes, we have individuals who attend 2 - 5 days per week.
What is a typical day like?
There are five classes per day. Each class is 50 - 60 minutes long with a 10 minute break in between. There is a 1 hour lunch period.
Is the schedule the same every day?
Each day is different to provide a wider variety of curriculum for our individuals.
Do you serve hot lunches?
No, individuals bring their own lunches. Microwaves and refrigerators are available to be used with supervision from the staff. We also have a student store which offers a variety of food items.
Do you operate year round?
Yes, observing recognized national holidays.
What ages do you serve?
Individuals are 22 years and over.
What disabilities do you serve?
All intellectual disabilities are served as long as individuals are ambulatory, capable of handling all of their personal needs and have no current aggressive behaviors.
What is your staff:individual ratio?
Staff:individual ratio is 1:8.
Is talent in the arts required for admittance?
No, however, individuals must have a strong interest in the arts.
Is there a fee to attend?
Yes, tuitions are paid by regional centers, scholarships or privately by families.
Are you funded by regional centers other than Orange County?
Yes, we presently have individuals from 4 different regional centers.
Do you have residential facilities?
No, we are strictly a day program.
Do you provide transportation?
No, but arrangements for transportation can be made through Regional Center.
Do students go out into the community?
Periodic enrichment field trips are taken 4-5 times per year. Performance groups entertain in community outreach performance.
What is the enrollment process?
- Schedule a visit/tour of the facility to see if the program would benefit individual.
- Call your regional center service coordinator and ask that a packet of information be sent to Hi Hopes Identity Discovery Foundation regarding the interested individual.
- A two day assessment will be required prior to being accepted.
- If accepted, paperwork must be completed prior to enrollment.
- Proof of a tuberculosis test must be provided prior to enrollment.
Is there a graduate program?
No, individuals may stay as long as they feel that they are benefiting from the program.
What is the difference between Hi Hopes Identity Discovery Foundation, Inc. and Hope University?
Hi Hopes Identity Discovery Foundation, Inc. is the legal non profit organization, and Hope University is a dba.
Stories of Transformation
Get To Know...
Story of Alison French
Alison was born shortly after Christmas in 1984. Her first months were wonderful, as she met all the milestones of a newborn infant. This changed at age 3 months with the sudden onset of neonatal seizures. Her condition rapidly worsened over the months that followed. During this time, all her milestones had vanished and she nearly reverted to a newborn state. At age 12 months, as suddenly as the seizures began, they disappeared. Alison began to progress and reach milestones again, but now progress was much slower than normal.
At age 3, Alison had a remarkable year. After delays in all childhood milestones, she began her first steps and was speaking single words. Doctors then diagnosed that she was autistic. About that time her father played the melody to Greig's Morning Song on the piano while Alison watched. To her father's surprise, Alison then reached out and played the same melody. Other themes were tried with equal success. In the months that followed, Alison was playing childhood songs. She couldn't speak the names of songs, but given a few notes she would play the melody.
Alison played the piano by ear during her childhood. She started piano lessons, but could not learn from traditional methods. One day her mother saw the Hi Hopes on TV and told everyone about their performance. Both parents agreed that Hope University would be a great place for Alison. Her father called and spoke to Doris Walker, the school founder. Mrs. Walker was very interested in Alison's history and musical abilities. She explained that Hope University was for adults who had completed their public education. She advised them to have Alison continue playing by ear and to consider Hope University when she was ready.
After finishing school, Alison worked in a structured work place and moved into a group home. The home was wonderful, but there was something missing. Alison was showing less interest in music and becoming withdrawn. Her workplace hit hard times leaving her idle most days.
Then, the family met a lady who played the piano like an angel. She lived in one of the several group homes affiliated with Alison's home. When asked about her remarkable abilities, they were informed that she attended Hope University in Anaheim. They knew right away that Alison should be there. The application took the help and patience from many wonderful people. Eventually, they got the call from Hope University with acceptance to the program.
Alison now looks forward to every day at Hope. She calls her parents daily and talks about piano, keyboard, drums, yoga, choir, art, dance and computer classes. She now engages in family conversations. On weekends, without prompting she now sits down at the piano and plays a wide variety of music. She has also taken an interest in playing her guitar that was a gift many years ago but rarely played.
In a very short time, Hope University has given Alison a new perspective on life. She has shown a desire to interact with family and friends. While Alison is now taking her music ability to a new level, more importantly she is taking control of her life in a way that her parents would never have imagined possible a few years ago. This is the true value that Hope University has given to Alison and to all the artists and performers who attend this program.
Get To Know...
Story of Howard Miller
by Florine and Gary Miller
Howard was born in Whittier, California in 1962 as the first born child and grandchild. He showed signs of elevated physical and mental abilities. But at the age of 3 ½ years he was hit by a car and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Even in the years following the subsequent brain surgery and recovery, he continued to display evidence of high intelligence. However, due to the nature of his brain injury, he had difficulties with traditional learning. Special education was just becoming a reality in the public school system, so when he entered school, and following evaluations, he was placed in the Educationally Handicapped classes.
Howard comes from a family with a history of musical and artistic talent. Because of his particular injury, his brain switched from left to right dominance and this allowed both his artistic and musical talents to develop. At the age of 7 years, he began classes at Yamaha School of Music, where he learned the basics in music over the period of a year. Private piano music lessons followed until the age of 17 yrs. At his final recital he played Franz List's Piano Concerto #1, 2nd Movement, accompanied by his teacher playing the orchestration on the organ. Students were required to memorize their music, except in performances where they were performing with another. However, Howard had memorized the score, and when the instructor made a mistake, she and Howard stopped, she referred him to a place in the score to begin again, and he did so. She was not aware that he did not have his printed music until they finished and took their bows.
In the years subsequent to high school, he received services from a variety of agencies, mainly attempting to place him in the work force. He became aware of Hope University through a friend, but chose to not pursue his music, rather to continue to be placed in a supported work environment.
Through Regional Center of Orange County, he was referred to Hope University in 2005. Howard had always wanted to be part of a band (KISS being his choice), and found that he would be considered for their performing group Hi Hopes. He began attending Hope University's adult day program and subsequently became part of Hi Hopes.
Howard has made extraordinary progress in many areas of his development since joining Hope University. He is proud to be a member of Hi Hopes and considers this his job with responsibilities and benefits. He also performs with the Ring & Sing (handbells and vocal choir combined), and has excelled in acting with the drama troupe. Howard has a wealth of knowledge on many subjects, mainly movies, music, and history. His social progress includes having friends at the program, an awareness and acceptance of both their abilities and disabilities and spending time with his girlfriend both at Hope U, on the phone, and on dates.
As Howard's parents, we are amazed and pleased with the wonderful artistic, social and cognitive progress Howard has made since attending Hope University. It is such a blessing for us to now hear words of praise about our son. We so appreciate the program and the very dedicated and special staff at Hope University.
Get To Know...
Story of Ron Langloe
Ron was born in Ketchikan, Alaska in 1952 with congenital heart disease, hypotesia of the left side of his face, blindness in his left eye and loss of hearing in his left ear. Literally, the left side of his face was not there and had to be constructed. Since the medical facilities in Ketchikan were scarce, his parents were advised to take him to Portland, Oregon. He remained in the hospital for 10 years, having over 100 surgeries. His parents were told that he probably would not survive because of his condition. The trip was very difficult and after two visits the parents no longer felt that they could make the trip, they did not expect Ron to survive and did not return to see him. After 100 surgeries the doctors decided they had done everything that they could and he was released to a foster family in Grants Pass, Oregon.
The family had children of their own and one young daughter was taking piano lessons and practiced every day. When she practiced Ron would listen and stand and shiver. He asked if he could play. They explained, "No" that the piano was not a toy, it was an expensive musical piece of furniture and he could not touch it. One day, a few months later, when she was practicing Ron was fidgeting, shivering and pulling his hair and ran over to her, carefully slid her off the piano bench, sat down and began to play. His foster mother was dumbfounded and asked him where he learned to play. He said, "I taught myself. I listen and then I play". Ron has taught himself to play numerous instruments, all by ear.
In 1981 Ron saw the Hi Hopes playing at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon. and knew that he wanted to be a part of the group. He contacted Doris Walker, the director of the Hi Hopes, upon their return to Anaheim and asked if he could join the group. It took six years to convince her, make the arrangements for housing and the foster parents to agree. In 1987 Ron moved to Anaheim to become part of the Hi Hopes and his long sought-after dream came true. He lives to play music and Hope University gives him this opportunity.