We all need a little help sometimes. Whether we’ve had a bad day from work or a fight with a friend, it’s not uncommon to find ourselves lost when obstacles are thrown into our lives.
There are people out there who do good in the music industry. Many may think that people are in it for the money but rest assured, they wouldn’t be in it if it weren’t for the passion living in their hearts.
Three Organisations: Wild At Heart, Hope For The Day and To Write Love On Her Arms.
From working on causes such as helping people with disabilities, to organising music events to instil hope for people or even writing a novel that has created a channel of inspiration around the world. These non-profit organisations have done a lot more than anyone would expect from them.
An ordinary human being can do extraordinary things with their time, and what you do with it counts. To be able to create work that makes a difference puts you on the right track for the rest of your life.
Wild At Heart: Community Arts
Residing from the outskirts of Melbourne, Victoria, Wild At Heart is an organisation that has helped people with disability and mental illness in telling their stories of struggle in the form of music, dance, video and performance. Managing and Artist Director, Phil Heuzenroeder, has been active with the organisation for quite some time with his passion gearing towards music and the arts. Wild At Heart has created such a positive impact for many people and this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of his team.
Heuzenroeder was already leading a couple of initiatives in music, arts and performance for people with disabilities but wanted to create an organisation that would bring together everything he was working on already. He wanted to bring more opportunity for those struggling with their voice so then, Wild At Heart was born.
“We are inspired and driven in our work by wanting to give people who are marginalised a place to connect and belong; to support them in finding their own voice through storytelling, songwriting, rap, dance or filmmaking.” he says.
Photo credit: Facebook/Wild At Heart Community Arts
Heuzenroeder is naturally busy and his work involves a lot of things which never makes a day the same for him. “I work closely with our participants, getting to know them, being a friend and supporter,” he continues. “I employ artists to lead our various workshop programs, so I also work closely with them to ensure the work we deliver is of the highest standard. I also run the business, which in addition to the day-to-day administration, means building our networks across all sectors of the community and resourcing our work through grants, donors and people willing to give their time and expertise.”
Although his work involves numerous tasks, this doesn’t stem away from how important his role is for the community. With the stigma coming from people experiencing disability, Heuzenroeder’s work has clearly broken the barrier of this for some. The work he has put into Wild At Heart has helped him feel like what he does matters.
“Listening to our participants about their experiences is part of our everyday work, as well as the more structured feedback and evaluation processes we use,” He says. “Some of our participants say that their involvement with Wild at Heart has saved their lives, giving them an experience of belonging to a supportive community and having meaningful engagement, including paid work for some artists. We also regularly ask our participants to help guide our work through planning and goal-setting sessions and collaborative input into grant applications.
“The work we do definitely contributes to the reduction of stigma where it engages with broader communities through our school programs, on the radio and when we present our artists in pubs around Melbourne. I’m always blown away by regular punters in the pubs who recognise that something extraordinary is going on at our performers’ nights. It’s certainly not the common patronising kind of ‘isn’t that nice’, but a sense of a real community happening and gritty real-life stories being told – as well as the fantastic talent of our artists.”
With that in mind, Heuzenroeder paints us a picture that no matter what disability you have, it doesn’t mean you should miss out on the creative spirit when making a song or a dance. It’s important that people, no matter their differences, should have equal opportunity in experiencing something truly remarkable when it comes to creating art.
To Write Love On Her Arms
To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) is a non-profit organisation that aids people struggling with depression, anxiety, abuse and addiction. Back in March 2006, the organisation was formed in Melbourne, Florida and it has been well-known for its community of survivors; people who have come to terms with their struggles by having honest conversations with each other. Jamie Tworkowski is the creative director/founder of TWLOHA and he was inspired to start the movement since meeting his good friend, Renee Yohe, who struggled and found it hard to come out of the dark place she was in. Live music was what got her through tough nights and it was the only way she could pull a smile; one that wasn’t fake.
“Music is part of our foundation and it all started when we took my friend, Renee to concerts so that she could be around music,” Tworkowski says. “We love music because it’s allowed to be honest. Songs ask questions and express feelings and we think that shares a lot of common ground with the conversations we’re trying to invite people into.”
As the organisation grew, bands like Anberlin and Switchfoot supported TWLOHA and it became something more. Considering how large the music industry is, particularly the alternative rock scene, bands wanted to support TWLOHA because of the life-changing impact it would bring to the kids that were struggling. The role-models that they looked up to lived a rockstar life but were filled with compassion and love for the movement.
“We’ve had the support of a whole bunch of bands. Bands have a unique degree of influence so when they point to something or talk about something, their fans tend to notice,” He continues. “We don’t use the word ‘awareness’ much, but bands talking about TWLOHA and the work we do is a huge part of how we got started and it has so much to do with our growth over the years. Bands mean a lot to people. Favorite songs mean a lot to people. Songs have the ability to move and encourage people; to invite people to believe better things. I’ve heard stories of people choosing to stay alive because of the way one song spoke to them.”
Since then, TWLOHA has created a positive impact to millions of people.
“We’ve become a source of hope and encouragement for people around the world. I meet folks who say they’re still alive because of the work we do,” He says. “More than anything, I think we help people realise they’re not alone and that it’s okay to ask for help.”
The TWLOHA movement has created a community for people who seek inspiration and hope into their lives when they feel like there’s none. For example, in the last few years, the organisation has brought out a beautiful campaign every September (same time as World Prevention Week) where you write the word ‘love’ on your wrist, signifying your support to those that are struggling.
Last year, Tworkowski wrote a book, If I Feel Too Much and it sold thousands of copies. With his Twitter account being active as ever, he retweets pictures for those who have bought a copy, sharing their excitement to the TWLOHA community of how much this book means to them. In addition, there was a film named To Write Love On Her Arms, made about Jamie and Renee’s story, starring Chad Michael Murray and Kat Dennings and this focused on how the organisation was established. Both the book and the movie were sources of hope which brought a positive impact in people’s lives.
Photo Credit: Time Is No Enemy | WordPress
Tworkowski revealed how much this organisation has helped others in their journey of struggles, and the realisation that everything doesn’t have to be smooth sailing. His job has created goodness in the world and he’s nothing but grateful. “It’s been almost ten years since this whole thing started. TWLOHA certainly changed my life,” He says. “It’s taken me all across America and even around the world and it’s allowed me to meet thousands of people. I feel thankful to get to do a job that I believe in and to get to bring my heart to work.”
Hope For The Day
Based in Chicago, Illinois, Hope For The Day is a non-profit organisation which implements arts and music as a defense mechanism to suicide. Founder, Jonny Boucher, had been a booking agent since the age of thirteen, organised shows for his friends that were in punk bands. As things progressed for him when he got older, everything changed when he lost a good friend of his. “I always wanted to be involved in the music industry in any way I could,” Boucher says. “I was working for a man named Mike Scanlan who promoted concerts and festival-seized events. In 2011, he committed suicide. I dropped everything to start HFTD because it was a last straw moment.”
Losing his friend Mike was a devastating event for him and Boucher learnt that he had to do something that would make a difference to other people who were in the same dark place Mike was in. By combining his love for music, he felt like Hope For The Day was what he wanted to do for a long time.
“After Mike’s completion, I felt this sense of urgency that I just had to do something – anything, and I started by handing out resource information at any show I attended or was involved with,” He continues. “As I educated myself it grew to speaking, and we evolved to invite others to press this conversation with me and use their platforms to break the silence around these issues. Music is at the core of this organisation as we’ve evolved to embrace all platforms of self-expression.”
There are a number of projects Hope For The Day work on, helping those, especially young people, find their way again. Most known to the organisation is ‘This Music Saved My Life’ Project (MSML) which included bands like Tonight Alive and Set It Off, talking about how music has saved their lives.
“The best way to describe or measure the success of a project like MSML is to gauge if they help challenge stigma or break the silence around these issues by letting a viewer make a realisation about their personal situation through an artist they already connect with,” He says. “We have felt that result constantly in not just every new video we do, but we also get emails from people who come across videos we might have filmed months – even years ago. They were inspired to ask for support with their personal challenges and the fact that MSML can start that conversation is in our minds, proof of success, making it a humbling impact.”
Boucher has continuously grown as an individual and starting HFTD has seen him mature over the years. It’s not easy starting something but it’s clear, he has persevered and has been a driven individual since then. His passion for music has brought him an organisation where he can make all the difference in someone’s life because of it. “I’ve come to really appreciate studying and continuously learning in pursuit of finding ways to enhance and grow the organisation. I will always be asking what more can be done.”
There are things that we face that are terrible. It’s not easy being unhappy and feeling like everything is hopeless. Life is an unexpected route and what it paves for us is not an easy one. As we grow older, we face challenges that hinder us from doing the things that we love: loss, grief and the unexpected.
It’s scary to think that one day of depression, anxiety and abuse can turn into an ongoing battle. Wild At Heart, To Write Love On Her Arms and Hope For The Day are organisations that have stories behind the struggles of other people and how music has been the one thing that has needed to instil hope into their lives.
No human being is perfect. We all make mistakes and sometimes due to them, we feel helpless. There is nothing wrong when it comes to asking for help. There is no need to feel like there is pain and suffering for the rest of our lives because you know what? It get’s better.
One Tree Hill says, “Sometimes it seems like you are the only one in the world who’s struggling, who’s frustrated, unsatisfied, barely getting by. But that feeling’s a lie. And if you just hold on, just find the courage to face it all for another day, someone or something will find you and make it all okay.”
Sometimes all it takes is a life-changing song. A song that reminds us how wonderful it is to be alive.
This feature article was inspired from the track ,”This Song Saved My Life” by Simple Plan
To learn more about these organisations, visit their websites below:
Crisis and Counselling Telephone Lines for Australia
Lifeline: 13 11 14
crisis support chat
Suicide Call Back Service:
1300 659 467
Men’s Line: 1300 78 99 78
Veterans Line: 1800 011 046
Qlife: 1800 184 527
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
If you or someone are in immediate danger, please call 000.