Send Bernie Home

$96,350 of $150,000 goal

Raised by 1,718 people in 19 months
Created January 17, 2018

Meet Bernie Dalton, my voice student and friend. He doesn’t have much time left. Bernie is currently in a nursing home, separated from his community of support, where he is struggling emotionally and physically. We need to bring Bernie home to his loved ones to spend the time he does have left with his family and friends. To do this, we need to pay for home care, which is extremely expensive. Home Care Assistance has graciously donated $5,000 of services towards home care, which gives us a big boost, but we'll need nearly $300,000 to make sure Bernie is well taken care of. Now, we need your help to pay for the rest, so Bernie can live the remainder of his time with dignity!

My name is Essence Goldman and I am a singer/songwriter and voice coach. Bernie and my story began 2 years ago. Bernie is a down-to-earth, kind hearted, devoted single father to a beautiful 16 year old daughter named Nicole. When I first met Bernie, he was a dedicated surfer who had a passion for music and writing songs. In 2016, Bernie reached out to me for voice lessons. Bernie showed up to each lesson filled with inspiration, songs to share, and was eager to learn healthy vocal techniques to expand his range and build his confidence as a singer. Two months after starting voice lessons, Bernie’s voice mysteriously disappeared. We could not figure out why. Bernie saw a neurologist, and after a series of tests, he was diagnosed with the most aggressive form of ALS - Bulbar Onset (Lou Gehrig's Disease). The life expectancy for people with Bulbar onset ALS is 1-3 years. Bernie was shocked and devastated. He was only 47.

I wanted to help raise money so Bernie could take his daughter on a trip while he still could, but Bernie had a different idea. Bernie wanted to make a record of his songs. He wanted to leave a musical legacy for his future grandchildren that he would likely not live long enough to meet. He wanted them to know who he is, he wanted them to know his views of the world, and convey his advice for living in the lyrics he wrote. We launched a Go Fund Me campaign, and the outpour of love and support from family and friends made it possible for us to record an album of Bernie’s songs.

Bernie had a vision, but since ALS had already robbed of him of his ability to speak or sing, he asked me to be his voice. In the early recording sessions, Bernie was able to walk and he even drove himself to the studio in his pickup truck. He was able to sit with us in the studio and give feedback using hand signals and write notes on a dry erase board to indicate his approval or disapproval of what we were playing. I will tell you this: two thumbs up from someone who can't speak means a lot. But due of the aggressiveness of the disease, in 6 short months Bernie lost the ability to walk, move his arms, swallow, and travel, and we had to share our final recordings with him in the nursing home. Bernie’s album, “Connection,” is now complete and will be released with the band name Bernie and The Believers.

Now that the album is finished, our goal has changed.

Bernie is currently living in a nursing home because his family cannot afford the costs of home care. There have been numerous reports of Bernie not receiving proper care. The type of care Bernie requires is mind bogglingly expensive. ($12,000 per week!) Bernie is struggling, both physically and emotionally at the nursing home and desperately wants to be home with his family, enjoying the time he has left with his loved ones.

Throughout his life, Bernie has touched many people with his kindness, humor and generous spirit. Now, he deserves to be given proper medical care and he deserves to spend his remaining days in the peace of his own home, surrounded by loving friends and family. We are launching a brand new campaign to raise funds for Bernie’s end of life care. The support of the community has helped Bernie's dream of making an amazing record come true, but now he needs us more than ever. Nothing is more important to us than bringing Bernie home for his final days. We believe it is possible that with the help of friends, family, community, and beyond, we can share Bernie’s story far and wide and raise the money needed for Bernie’s home care. Please give what you can today, and share Bernie’s story wherever you can. Help Bernie get the proper care that he deserves. You can make the difference and give Bernie dignity and peace in his remaining days.  

Let’s show Bernie our love.

With gratitude,
Essence Goldman
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Dear Friends, 2018 was a year like none other for myself, Bernie & The Believers. I am deeply humbled and proud to tell you that Bernie and The Believers made NPR’s Best Of 2018 Tiny Desk Concerts List (Top 25!)

If you have not yet seen The Bernie and The Believers LIVE Tiny Desk Concert at NPR Headquarters in Washington DC, you can watch it here:

Bernie & The Believers also made The San Francisco Chronicle's "2018 Year In Pictures." What an honor.

This year I learned to love in a way I never have before. It’s the year I learned to sing from my heart in a way I never knew possible. It’s a year that affirmed goodness in the world through community coming together to support a man who decided to make an album of life affirming songs when he faced his own mortality head on. That brave and creative man is Bernie Dalton. The community who made it possible is you. And we thank you again, from our hearts. YOU made this possible. And the musicians who shared their magic moved me more deeply than words can express: Daniel Berkman, Roger Rocha, David Simon-Baker, Jonathan Korty, Bob Regent, Kevin Glaz, Adrienne Biggs, Olivia Norrmén-Smith, Paul Smith-Stewart, Jeff Bordes. I never imagined any of this would be possible. Friends and family, your support has changed the landscape of our lives and I thank you from the depths of my heart.

Bernie is stable and hanging in there. He is receiving excellent care and his father is faithfully at his bedside each and every day. His sisters and brother in law and daughter also visit him regularly and care for him in every way imaginable. Bernie's courage and endurance move me beyond words. The light in his eyes continues to be a beacon of hope and inspiration for everyone who knows him. His immediate and extended family is strong and selfless in their giving and I am honored to know them and hold each of them close to my heart.

Great things are happening over here with completing my own new record as well as records for 2 more of my voice students, and there are more very exciting opportunities in the works for Bernie and The Believers that we will share with you soon. In the meantime, keep an eye out next Thursday 1/10/19: BBC World Service, "Outlook" will be airing a video documentary piece on Bernie and The Believers.

We truly appreciate your continued support and love. Happy New Year to you all! Bring on 2019!

With Love and Gratitude,
essence, Bernie & The Believers
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Dear Friends, It has been the most profound honor of my life to be the voice of Bernie Dalton and I am thrilled to share this most emotional Bernie & The Believers NPR Tiny Desk Concert with you. I visited Bernie at his bedside earlier this week and showed him our Tiny Desk Concert. There was such a depth of feeling between us no words were necessary. Connection through the eyes. Tears flowing. Mine. His. I’ve been thinking about it all week and I had a realization last night. I was Bernie’s voice teacher but he taught me how to sing. I felt something I’ve never felt before singing the songs we created together. I sang for him and it came from my core in a way I’ve never done before. He taught me to sing from my heart. I could not be more grateful. We became something together neither of us could have done on our own. I became his voice and he became mine.

From our hearts..


View Bernie & The Believers Featuring Essence NPR's Tiny Desk Concert Here:

I posted some photos from the hospital visit on my Facebook pages Essence Goldman & essence + on both my Instagram (essencemusic) & Bernie And The Believers (BernieAndThe). Follow us there.. More Behind the scenes outtakes coming soon.
Deep gratitude to all who contributed to the Go Fund Me campaigns, to the brilliant musicians who traveled across the country to bring Bernie’s musical gifts to life Daniel Berkman, Adrienne Biggs, Kevin Glaz, Jeff Bordes, Jonathan Korty, Paul Smith-Stewart, Bob Regent, Olivia Norrmén-Smith, and to our co writer Roger Rocha who helped us birth these songs, and to David Simon-Baker for co-producing and mixing the record, John Cuniberti, to Ari Gold, Ethan Gold, and to all the people who supported us in spirit every step of the way Howard Sapper, Craig Morton, Margaret Cleaver, Amanda Castro, Aidin Vaziri, Manjula Varghese, Greg McQuaid, Dick Wingate, Perry Serpa, Karin Conn, Bob Laul, Alan Wolmark, Rick Bonde, Laura Santos, Kirk Goldberg, Randi and Jim Swindell, and Barry Simons and countless more. And last but not least thank you to Bernie’s incredible family Lena Dalton Sutcliffe, Lisa Wilson, Karen Koons Thomas, Nicole Dalton, William J. Dalton Jr, and to my children who put up with me during this very busy year, and to Ashley Newell Despain for being my rock and helping in every imaginable way. And thank you to everyone I am failing to mention.

This is a victory for us all.

None of this would have happened without community coming together.

You are all amazing and Bernie and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

With Love and Deep Gratitude,

essence, Bernie & The Believers
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Dear Friends,

We are about to kick off our Bernie & The Believers Tiny Desk/East Coast Tour! Flying out TODAY!

The LIVE Tiny Desk Concert taping is Tuesday 10/16 at 1pm EST and will air shortly thereafter. We have a show in NY on 10/18 and 2 shows in Pennsylvania 10/19! Guests are allowed so let me know if anyone wants to attend the live taping at NPR Headquarters in DC. I can’t begin to express how proud I am to be part of this project and what an honor it is to be the voice of Bernie Dalton- sharing his message of courage and love through music. The band has been rehearsing like a mother and we are buzzing with adrenalin and excitement. I’m thrilled to be making music with Daniel Berkman on drums and cello, Jonathan Kortyon keys and organ, Kevin Glaz on guitar, Paul Smith-Stewart on bass, Adrienne Biggs on violin, Jeff Bordes on trumpet, Bob Regent on banjo, and Olivia Normann-Smith on harmonies. I’ve written a statement about the project. It was supposed to be one minute. It’s not. I had a major breakthrough writing it. I read it to the Tiny Desk creator and host Bob Boilin and he became very emotional and didn’t ask me to change anything or shorten it so it remains. I hope I can hold it together when I tell the story at Tiny Desk. Deep breath We were going to do 4 songs but with there’s time considerations so we had to cut one. My personal favorite, but this isn’t about me. It’s about Bernie and his powerful message to us all— and my only wish is to channel him in the most pure way possible.

Our Itinerary:
Tuesday Oct 16 Washington D.C.
NPR Tiny Desk Concert
Guests Welcome for taping.
Message us if you'd like to attend.

Thursday Oct 18 NYC
For Location + Tickets Go To:

Friday October 19 Danville, PA
Hilltop Bar & Grill
115 Liberty Valley Road
Danville, PA
(Donations Accepted)
7-8:30 & 9-10:30

We actually have a night with no shows... Wednesday 10/17.. If anyone out there on the East Coast would like to host Bernie & The Believers for a house concert let us know! You name the place! Have van, will travel - it would be a blast :)

We haven’t quite met our funding goal yet. In other words, we have enough money to get most of us to the East Coast and back (but not all of us) and not enough to eat or compensate the talented musicians for the time they are taking away from their jobs and families. We are in the final stretch here and WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT! If you haven’t donated yet— please donate today if you can! And if you already have, please know we are filled with heartfelt gratitude. None of this would have been possible without you. We know it. And we thank you.


With Love,

essence, Bernie & The Believers
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Dear Friends and Supporters of Bernie,

I have spent several full days at Bernie’s bedside in the past week trying to get statements from him for NPR Tiny Desk & The BBC. Both are doing features on Bernie's music and story. It hasn’t been easy for Bernie to communicate using his eye gaze device but progress has been made. We had a wonderful woman named Amy Roman step in to assist. She’s patient, compassionate and kind. An angel. One of the things we asked Bernie was to describe how it felt to surf. He replied: ‘Time stops.’ He became emotional. He misses being in the ocean everyday. But when we spoke of his music and people hearing it now all over the world his face lit up like the sun. Time also stops with music. Of all the things I’ve ever done in my life I feel truly called to share his songs and story of courage through music. I don’t know why this happened or how I got involved to this degree but this feels meaningful to me. I realize if anything had gone differently in my life and my music before this I might not have met Bernie. There are no accidents. So proud to be bringing his music, our collaboration, to the East Coast to play a live filmed concert for National Public Radio's Tiny Desk in Washington D.C. on 10/16! We also have shows confirmed in NYC on 10/18 and in Bernie's hometown of Danville, PA on 10/19. More dates TBA. Flights are booked. Van is booked. Air BnB in DC booked. We are still accepting donations to the ‘Keep Bernie’s Dream Alive’ Go Fund Me to help make this financially feasible. We have not reached our goal yet and would be truly grateful for your help. If you can donate, please do. It is making a difference in Bernie’s life to share his music. It lifts his spirits everyday. ALS is a horrible, unforgiving disease. Perhaps Bernie’s story can help raise awareness and bring more attention and funding to research that will make a difference for others. That is my wish. Thank you all for your continued support.

With Love and Gratitude,

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$96,350 of $150,000 goal

Raised by 1,718 people in 19 months
Created January 17, 2018
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