IVINS – Utah natives Mike, Dick and Jerry Eldredge’s shared passion for music has brought them closer together, while touching the lives of many in the community.
The brothers’ interest in music began early. Raised on a mink farm in the Salt Lake Valley, they sang during daily chores in an effort to make the work more enjoyable. They also learned guitar. Mike Eldredge said the music helped pass idle time. When there was nothing else to do, he would play and sing to the minks. They continued to play actively through the 1970s, when family, work and other commitments forced them to lay down their guitars and part.
It wasn’t until 2008 that an opportunity to play together again arose, when their niece announced her engagement. Their youngest brother wanted to perform a song at the wedding and called on Mike, Dick and Jerry Eldredge for a helping hand. With renewed inspiration, they began taking guitar lessons to hone their skills shortly after.
Having decided to perform again, all they lacked was a venue. Their mother had stayed at the Red Cliffs Health and Rehab Center in St. George in the final years of her life, and during frequent visits, the brothers were moved by the unfailing kindness both the staff and patients showed her. They approached the center with an offer to volunteer their time and talent in hopes of lifting the current residents’ spirits.
“Those people were so good to our mom,” Mike said. “We rue the fact that we didn’t play for her more when she was alive and hope that now, she’s hearing us somehow. We’re doing (this) to remember her.”
The brothers have kept their pledge faithfully for the last three years. Though Jerry Eldredge now lives in Salt Lake City and can only join them from time to time, Mike and Dick Eldredge spend every Saturday morning at the center entertaining with lively and uplifting songs. Their repertoire of nearly 60 songs includes country and folk hits, soft rock from the 1960s and religious standards. A few of their regular listeners have even compiled a request list.
For many at the center, the brothers’ show is the highlight of their week. Activities director Aubrey Brown said that their performance emits a positive energy that remains with their audience long after the music has stopped.
“It’s wonderful having them here,” Brown said. “They treat it very seriously even though it’s volunteer work and they might not get the same reception that they would at a bar or other venue. They’re very caring and a dream to work with.”
“They make you feel good about yourself,” said Wanda St. John, a Red Cliffs resident who never misses a performance. “If you want to sing along, you can. If not, they love you anyway.”
But the listeners aren’t the only ones who gain something from the show.
“To see them smiling, tapping their feet and singing along feeds us,” Dick Eldredge said. “Watching those people having fun and the response they’re giving back is inspiring.”
Mike Eldredge agreed. “We realize we’re not great singers but feel that what little talent the Lord has blessed us with, we (should share,)” he said.
In addition to their performances at Red Cliffs, Mike and Dick Eldredge also volunteer at the Santa Clara Welfare Garden run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mike was called on to manage the garden one year ago by the church, which motivated his brother and other family members to become involved. They, along with numerous other workers, have helped the garden yield 27,000 pounds of produce this growing season. Half of the crop will be given to the local Bishop’s Storehouse, while the other is donated to Dixie Care & Share.
Mike Eldredge said that during his time at the garden, he has been amazed by the generous spirit of his fellow volunteers; some who are children, while some are in their 80s. Rain or shine, they are there each day to ensure the operation keeps running smoothly and that a common goal is reached: serving the community.
Though the brothers take great pleasure in giving back, even more valuable is the opportunity to share their experiences with one another.
“We’re only four years apart in age, but when we were kids that seemed (huge) and we didn’t always see eye to eye,” Mike Eldredge said. “Now I enjoy his company and we do a lot of things together. I’ve been blessed with good family.”
Dick Eldredge said, “Togetherness is just a nice feeling to have.”
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