Joliet, Illinois — The Joliet Central High School Band has a legacy of excellence that stretches back more than a century. In fact, the Joliet nickname ‘City of Champions’ doesn’t come from its many outstanding
athletes and sports teams but from the long history of national recognition that rightfully places the Joliet Central Band in the pantheon of student musical organizations.
The Melvin and Ruth Oyer Joliet Central Band Fund was established in 2021 with a $100,000 investment to pay for school-based private and group music lessons for Joliet Central band members. “When our parents were children they didn’t have opportunities for extra-curricular activities like band,” says Melvin and Ruth’s son, Scott Oyer. “When we moved to the area and were able to join the Joliet Central band they provided time, lessons, chauffeuring.” To that end, the Oyer’s children Julie Jaskowiak and Scott Oyer wanted to honor their parents legacy by establishing a fund at the Community Foundation of Will County (CFWC) that will underwrite professional music lessons for students who play in the Joliet Central Band. “It’s a privilege to start this fund in their honor and our parents would be smiling,” says Scott.
With support from like-minded donors the Oyers hope to grow the fund to $400,000 to create an endowment that will stretch well into the future. All investments in the Melvin and Ruth Oyer Joliet Central Band Fund will be used to pay for professional music lessons for musicians in the Joliet Central Band.
“The Joliet Central band has had only five directors since its inception, but thousands of students have been part of our program,” says Joliet Central Band Director Don Stinson. “Right now we have 100-120 students in the band and we rely on private and group instruction to bring in experts on various instruments during the school day. It certainly helps students become great musicians, but it also increases confidence, creates leaders and instills life skills that go well beyond band.”
“People come to see our performances who played with the band 5, 10, 20 years ago,” says band member Tony Toledo. “We’re upholding the tradition and the excellence.”
Anyone interested in joining the Oyers to support music instruction for future generations of Joliet Central band musicians are invited to donate to the Melvin and Ruth Oyer Central Band Fund at
willcountycf.org/oyer-fund. Together, we can ensure the standard of musical excellence for the ‘City of Champions’ well into the next century.
The Community Foundation of Will County seeks to improve the quality of life throughout Will County by promoting philanthropy, connecting donors to community needs and building partnerships. The CFWC was founded as an affiliate of the Chicago Community Trust by local community leaders in 2006 to serve as a local resource for donors and professional advisors in the implentation of charitable strategies through donor advised funds and other planning vehicles, to build endowments in areas of special interest and to hold various nonprofit agency/organization endowment fund.
Photo ID (L to R):
Photo 1: Julie Jaskowiak and Scott OyerPhoto 2: Joliet Central High School Director of Bands Don Stinson Photo 3: Joliet Central Band Students Joy Kipkiyeny, Tony Toledo, and Eugenio Leon