Walk for Music Spotlight: Steve Snyder

How did you get involved with ZUMIX and Walk for Music?

I came back to the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center in 2011, after having worked there for 13 years when I first graduated from college. I’d spent some time at the Franciscan Hospital for Children, and when I came back to Eastie, my coworkers immediately started telling me about ZUMIX. I thought, What’s a ZUMIX? 

A supervisor of mine, Jack Craddock, often talked about volunteering and the importance of supporting other organizations. He mentioned ZUMIX to me, too. So I walked over to ZUMIX and met Madeleine, had a tour, and I thought–Oh, I get it. I get what they’re doing

I used to coach basketball and youth sports, especially when my son was young. I thought, That’s what they’re doing here, only through music and art. I was instantly attracted to ZUMIX. I thought, I wish I was a kid again–I would live here.

After that, I joined the development committee on the ZUMIX board. I started to meet and get to know the staff, and basically fell in love with ZUMIX. Being there helped get me back into music. I was meeting all these incredible musicians, and I started playing music again. 

Do you have a favorite Walk for Music memory? 

My first Walk for Music was as a participant. I was able to connect ZUMIX and the health center around sponsorship. Madeleine and Manny Lopes, formerly the CEO of the health center, go way back. Manny had loaned his DJ equipment to ZUMIX for some of their early ZUMIX programs. The health center started supporting Walk for Music. 

I always loved the Walk as a fundraiser. I loved the fact that the students had a chance to participate and ask their families to give back to ZUMIX in some way. And honestly, I just loved the spirit of the Walk. I took my guitar the first few times. I remember walking next to Brian Paulding, who had his trombone. I said, Are you a reggae fan? And we started playing reggae music together. People were banging drums, walking down the street–it was so fun. It was pleasing and shocking to me how many people we passed who didn’t know what ZUMIX was. 

Later on, I formed a band with mostly ZUMIX teachers and students. My first bass player was a 14-year-old ZUMIX student! We’re called Don’t Be Denied, and we still play a lot of gigs in Eastie. The last few years, we’ve opened the ZUMIX Summer Concert Series, which coincides with the Walk for Music, in Piers Park. That’s my other favorite memory–playing those concerts in Piers Park.

Tell us about EBNHC’s partnership with ZUMIX. 

The health center has a unique relationship with ZUMIX. We sponsor them, and ZUMIX allows us to use their space, which is down the street. We’ve had quarterly meetings at ZUMIX, salsa dance parties with our staff–all those things. We also make public health announcements on 94.9 FM ZUMIX Radio.

Our two organizations partner together to build the health of the community. ZUMIX does what they do, and we do what we do to make the community healthier, and we definitely intersect in that. The health center has been proud to be a partner of the Walk. It’s an easy event for health center staff to get involved in, too. We promote the event to our staff, and encourage them to come out and walk. 

Why do you Walk for Music?

I walk for music because I know it’s going to help support the mission of ZUMIX, whether it’s raising awareness for the mission or fundraising for programs. My birthday is in May, and I usually do a fundraiser for ZUMIX. It’s so much fun, and it’s an easy way to help support ZUMIX. I’m sad I can’t actually walk this year, since my band will be setting up in Piers Park, but we’ll see everyone at the concert. It’s always a great day. 

Steve Snyder is a former ZUMIX board member, an East Boston resident and local musician, and Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer of the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center. Donate to the Health Center’s Walk for Music page here

Read all of ZUMIX’s Walk for Music Spotlights here.