The Zzak G. Applaud Our Kids Foundation was inspired by our dad, Zzak, who was a singer/songwriter. He had an extreme passion for the performing arts. His passion for the arts started early in his life, but unfortunately, he was unable to afford to take vocal lessons and pursue his dream until he was in his mid-thirties. He discovered during his very first vocal lesson that he was an operatic tenor.
He would come home from work and practice every day in our living room. Of course, as a tenor, his voice would carry, and the kids on the block would often stand outside our front porch and listen. When his song was over all the children would applaud and cheer from the street.
The first song he ever wrote was in honor of a homeless man that he never met. The man passed away from hypothermia in a storefront, and our dad was walking by while the homeless man was being taken away. Dad went back home and the words to what he thought was a poem about the homeless man eventually turned into a song. He was later invited to sing his song at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, California. This life changing experience was the impetus that led him to write and create over 300 original songs.
He truly believed that a person’s financial situation should not be a barrier for pursuing his/her dreams. Our dad was an inspiration to us and his grandchildren, as well as all those who came into his life. He always said that he practiced the religion of kindness. He was our positivity trainer, our mentor, our best friend, our teacher, our spiritual advisor, our rock, our go to guy, our sounding board, our business advisor and so much more. Everyone who met him felt the same way. He was selfless in his endeavors and supported people on their own personal journeys. He believed in the power of positive thinking and could turn any situation into a powerful learning experience. He always said to us, “Life is about conversation, a hug, and showing up”, “The greatest gift you can give someone is your time”, “The only reason we are here is to feel", and “There are no accidents in life, only opportunities.”
Three years ago, he was diagnosed with ALS, and within six months he lost his battle. Throughout his disease he tried to stay strong and positive. He refused to let ALS define who he was. He went to work in Manhattan even when he was struggling with walking, and he sang Happy Birthday to his oldest granddaughter the week before he passed away, even though he was on a ventilator. The performing arts kept him going all the way till the end. We love and miss him each and every day. His passion in life was music, the performing arts, and watching his grandchildren as they performed on stage. We know that he is so proud of each child that comes through this foundation. He is yelling, “FANTASTIC” from his front row seat in the audience, just like he did for his own grandchildren at every one of their performances.
Please take a moment to listen to Zzak G. perform two original songs.
Rhymes of a Child: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7lUaVdh7cc
Thank you for taking time to read more about why we started the Applaud Our Kids Foundation.
Jodi Grinwald Melissa Grinwald
CEO & Co-Founder President & Co-Founder