Estrella Discovers Her Passion for Piano

by Arleen Bandarrae

Published on August 9, 2023

Photo of Estrella playing piano.

Estrella’s spirits lifted as she listened to the captivating piano music that enveloped Family House. A talented young pianist, Evrim Duransoy, 15, was playing the grand piano on a mellow Saturday afternoon in late spring, visiting as part of the music program. With every stroke of the piano keys, 11-year-old Estrella was more and more captivated.

“I want to learn to play,” she said to her mom, Nelly, who sat beside her with tears of emotion welling in her eyes. Estrella’s baby sister Luna was bouncing around on her lap, and her dad Jesus was also beside them.

In response to Estrella’s desire to play piano, resident musician Paul Goold, Family House Director of Family Services, offered her lessons. They’ve been playing together every week since that Saturday in May.

“She loves to play piano with Paul,” said Nelly, Estrella’s mom.

Estrella’s Journey

In February, Estrella and her family came to Family House from Rohnert Park, more than an hour outside of San Francisco. Estrella was admitted to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, where she received a bone marrow transplant to treat Chronic Granulomatous Disease (CGD). CGD is a genetic disorder in which white blood cells are unable to kill certain bacteria, making her highly susceptible to life-threatening infections.

At first, Estrella’s parents were concerned that she would not be able to come home after the procedure. They didn’t know where they were going to stay in San Francisco. Then they heard about Family House while they were at the hospital.

“It was a huge relief to hear that Family House was here, not just for Estrella, but for our entire family too,” said Nelly. With the comfort of knowing Family House would be there for her family, Nelly was able to completely focus on Estrella’s needs.

More than a Place to Stay

“Family House is the perfect name for this place,” said Nelly. “It is not just a place to stay. Family House opened up their arms, and my family grew bigger in seconds.”

Nelly feels at home. She especially loves that Luna has had a place to run around and can be with her big sister as much as possible as she recovers. Nelly also loves the large kitchen and “all the stuff you need to prepare a and enjoy a meal together as a family.”

“We are happy here. Estrella is recovering, and doing really good,” said Nelly. “We will always have a place in our hearts for Family House. We are so thankful for everything Family House has done for us.”

Estrella and her family checked out of Family House last week and will be returning in the coming weeks and months for follow-up doctors’ appointments. In the meantime, she continues her passion for playing the piano with virtual lessons with Paul over Zoom!

Family House San Francisco is an independent non-profit organization led by a professional staff and board of directors dedicated to providing residential services free of charge to qualifying families. We rely solely on the generous contributions of individuals, corporations, and foundations.

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