I don’t want to be on this plane.
I’ve been home for over a month and wish I could stay for another one. I am lucky. My wife and son are beautiful, and I was just getting used to them being used to me being a regular part of their lives for the first time this calendar year. I have a nice house on a nice street that is just a short walk from my Mom’s. She was buttering her still hot home-made bread and slicing a ham at the kitchen counter not long before I was dropped at the airport.
Leaving home is never easy. Quite often, my leaving is for work. And I am even luckier in that regard. I love my work. I have a dream job doing the thing in life I love the most and get paid to do it. Even so, I find it hard to leave for a gig or a recording after some quality time at home. Today, I am leaving for a different reason all together, and I wish, even more, that I did not have to go. I am flying to Toronto to speak to the media and some potential corporate partners for a foundation myself and two friends, Andrew and Brendan, started to help people suffering with Mental Health and Addictions issues across the country.
As I’ve told a few times, the idea started honestly and simply. A few years back, I lived in one side of downtown St. John’s and the Great Big Sea recording studio was at the other. We were working on a record for about a month and everyday I walked the length of Water Street to make tunes. Every day I passed a man on the street. He had the same paper cup in front of him every day and I gave him a dollar every day. We’d chat some mornings and I learned he had mental health issues that led to substance addictions issues that led him here. Homeless on Water Street.
When the record was done, we hit the road and I did not walk on Water Street for a few weeks, maybe even a month or so. Over that time, I wondered about the gent on the street. How could I give him a dollar a day if I was not there? How could I help him whether I was in St. John’s or anywhere else? I was happy enough to find four quarters that day, and assumed I’d be able to that seven times a week, so I started saving loonies and quarters and not long later, I wrote a cheque for $365 to a local charity that fed the homeless.
A Dollar A Day. That’s what I committed to giving.
A while later, I told Andrew and Brendan about this idea. They loved the notion and very quickly we came to wonder how many people out there would give a dollar a day if someone just directed that dollar to the right place for them. A few conversations later, A Dollar A Day was born.
We started researching and learning more and more about the desperate need for more access to programs and services. About how there were quite a few excellent facilities across the country offering help but they were woefully underfunded. We learned statistics about how many people are directly affected by Mental Health and Addictions issues and how the stigma of such things prevented many from talking about it openly, much less fundraise for it. We learned how effective treatment can be if people were just made aware of it and had easier access to it. We learned about how much return there is to gain from investing just a dollar into these programs and facilities.
In short, we learned how important it is to turn our attention to Mental Health and Addictions so we launched this foundation just a few months back in Newfoundland. Now we are taking the message across the country. The more I learn about the sweeping problems with Mental Health and Addictions, the more we know how vital it is to make a difference and to create and offer a situation where everyone can have a hand in the solution. One little bit at a time.
I don’t want to be on this plane.
I wish this trip was not necessary at all.
But it is.
So off we go.
You’ll likely spot one or all of us on a screen or in the papers or hear us on the radio. If you’d like to learn more and hopefully join the movement and share the change, just go here.