When Natalie Kondos was three years old,   Hurricane Charley hit her house in Punta Gorda, the eye slamming directly into the family home. In the weeks of reconstruction that followed, she found solace in music, playing first the piano and then the cello as both coping mechanism and creative outlet. Today a senior at Pine View School, Kondos is also founder of Instruments of Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing musical instruments to children whose lives have been uprooted by disaster. Just this past year, as Hurricane Maria ravaged the island of Puerto Rico, a young girl named Nichelle Agosto had to leave her home and start anew in Cape Coral. She could not bring her instrument, a sizable standup bass, with her. So Instruments of Hope raised funds to purchase another and Kondos drove down to Agosto’s high school to give it to her in person. “And I realized the magnitude of what I was doing was beyond what I had even fathomed when I created this,” says Kondos. “It’s that coping mechanism, and people being able to have that outlet of emotion and being able to express themselves in times when everything really doesn’t make sense.” Currently, the nonprofit is raising money for instruments to send to those affected by Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael.

PHOTO BY WYATT KOSTYGAN.