Erin Rheinscheld has endured more than a mother should. The eldest of her five children, Catherine, passed away in August 2017. She was 16 years old.
Rheinscheld was working in the legal field and for a medical device manufacturing company in a regulatory role where she helped numerous devices become FDA approved for use and sale.
“When Catherine passed away, I wasn’t sure what to do, but I didn’t see myself continuing through the corporate world,” she said.
She used the experience to change the lives of others.
In March 2018, Rheinscheld and her daughter’s best friend, Julia Stranahan, founded Catherine’s Orchestra for All. It is a nonprofit that ensures anyone who wants access to music education or opportunities can participate, regardless of their income or background. Rheinscheld serves as executive director.
She runs day-to-day operations with Katherine Stranahan, who serves as vice president.
“I write grants, provide presentations on music education and why it matters, assist in various middle school and high school band program to ensure they have what they need,” she said.
“One of my favorite things about this job is working with students. We have the privilege of providing an instrument petting zoo to elementary schools to give them more information about band. Students get to see, hear, touch and play a variety of instruments.”
She enjoys seeing their faces light up when they make their first sounds on a trombone or flute.
“We have the opportunity to tell these elementary school students about the benefits of middle school and high school bands, including options for college and scholarships. Quite a number of the fifth graders we worked with last school year ended up signing up for middle school band. Getting to go into those middle school band programs and seeing those same students from our instrument petting zoo playing an instrument is so special,” Rheinscheld added.
Rheinscheld is from St. Petersburg, Fla. Her family moved to Tennessee because of her father’s job in 1990. She has spent the majority of her life in Wilson County.
In 2013, she married Joshua Rheinscheld. Their family includes Max, 14; Charlie, 11; Henry, 4; and her bonus son, Hughes, 12.
When she isn’t sharing the COFA mission, Rheinscheld loves to sew.
“There is something quite fun about taking a pile of fabric and turning it into something amazing,” she said.
She is also an avid music lover and is learning to play the ukulele and banjo.
Rheinscheld shared that she admires women who have overcome adversity, such as Melissa Jefferson who goes by the stage name Lizzo.
“She was a self-described ‘band nerd’ who struggled with being herself. She is an incredibly talented flute player who went to the University of Houston to study classical flute performance,” she recalled. “Despite having a job lined up with a prominent symphony, she left it all and decided to stay true to what she wanted. From 2011 until 2016, she was out performing and working on her talent, all while working to support herself. In 2016, she started to gain some attention in the industry and just kept working. In 2018, she broke through the barrier to become one of the most popular artists today … She is an inspiration for young musicians and is a huge supporter of high school and college marching band programs which aligns with my personal views, as well as our non-profit.”
To nominate someone for the Woman of Wilson feature, contact Sabrina Knowles at firstname.lastname@example.org.