When Sister Jean Peter Olsen turned 82, she was given a ukulele for her birthday. (She plays the banjo, ukulele, and guitar.) The gift sparked an idea to offer ukulele lessons to the men in recovery at Hope House Ministries. The idea has become a musical reality! Ten men have begun to learn how to play the ukulele through group lessons every other week since January 26, 2019.

Sister Jean is the Director of Spirituality at Hope House Ministries, an organization committed to helping young people in crisis. She has worked there for 15 years, running Spirituality Sessions such as Meditation/Contemplation sessions, Art Journaling, Mindfulness, etc. Ukulele is the latest tool she uses to bring joy to men in recovery. “For Men who have been through hell and back, in prison, and near-death… to see them smile for the sheer joy of the moment is beyond description!” said Sister Jean. “One of the main points in Mindfulness is to learn to change your focus,” she said. “When anyone is playing an instrument, they focus only on learning the instrument. When the men do this, they stop obsessing about the past, present, or future. Therefore, for a moment, or five, ten or twenty minutes they practice…they have peace of mind.”

Sister Jean shares a quote by Maya Angelou: “My mission in life is not merely to survive but to thrive; and to do so with passion, compassion, humor, and style.”

Teaching is my passion,” said Sister Jean. “Whether it’s facilitating Spirituality sessions or teaching ukulele, I feel it ‘makes a difference’ in the lives of these men in recovery. Therein, lies my reward.”