In 2012, Dan Blitz, now Director of Corporate Growth at Cognosante, was speaking with Francesca “Ches” Winch, a friend and English teacher at Yorktown High School in Arlington, Virginia. Winch told Blitz of a dream she had in which her daughter and some friends (including Blitz’s daughter) had performed Broadway song and dance under the moniker “Teen Angels” for the benefit of older adults in a care home.
Blitz, Winch, and others decided to make that dream come true, and less than a month later, the Teen Angel Project was officially registered as a nonprofit and, ultimately, a 501(c)(3) public charity organization.
Now finishing its fifth year, Teen Angel Project visits more than a dozen venues in the Washington, DC, area every year, including assisted living centers, nursing facilities, and children’s hospitals. It also partners with organizations like Make-A-Wish Foundation, Autism Speaks, and the Rotary Clubs of America.
Blitz, who joined Cognosante in 2016, remains committed to the group as a board member and “Chief Bottle Washer” who does some of everything, from running the group’s website to helping video the performances.
“This past year we visited a care facility dedicated to 16 residents with Alzheimer’s,” Blitz recalls. “I had a feeling walking in this would be a game-changer for me, as my father has Alzheimer’s. From the moment our Teen Angels began their program, I could see a difference in the faces and gestures of these residents and their loved ones who attended with them. It was magical.”
The middle and high school students who volunteer receive student service learning hours for their service. Teen Angels holds auditions at the beginning of each performance season.