Staind's Aaron Lewis Launches Charity, Concert to Benefit Rural Areas
Lewis and wife Vanessa launched their It Takes a Community Foundation and the charity's focus is to revive rural communities throughout the greater New England area. While most people don't consider the New England region to be very 'rural' or to even have pockets of rural areas unencumbered by urban sprawl, it certainly does have quiet, quaint parts -- ones that the Lewis family cherishes and wants to protect.
One of ITAC's initial goals is to raise funds to support the Community Education Center in Worthington, Mass., which will help open the school's doors and provide a seamless transition from a district-run facility to a community school. In a statement, Lewis said, "My family has been directly affected by school closures in our rural area due to state budget cuts. We have seen firsthand the necessity for smaller communities to have a voice and to determine their own local needs and priorities. Our foundation strives to do just that-to build a collective of local community members and empower them to take charge of their own community's future."
Noisecreep spoke to Lewis as he was enjoying a beautiful summer day in Massachusetts, while his kids were making vinegar and baking soda volcano, like a science project. "The school district in our town decided to close three of five elementary schools," Lewis told Noisecreep. "My daughter's school was on the chopping block, so after fighting with the school district for a year and giving them options to stay open, they closed. That wasn't acceptable to me. I do not want to put my 5-year-old and 8-year-old on a school bus for an hour in each direction, at 6:15 [AM], when the school day starts at 8 [AM].
"So I am re-opening them out of my own pocket. The charity's mission statement is to help any project within a small rural community in the New England area right now. Hopefully it will expand outside of the New England area." Lewis is very dedicated to the project, and he is humble, too, saying, "This is the least I can do."
Lewis' daughter's school may have shut its doors on June 23, but it on tap to re-open in September. The foundation had to buy back all the books and the desks that were once used by the school. "That is the first project," the singer said. "Whatever help I get from charitable contributions or from people buying tickets for the show is great, and I make up the difference. This time around, I am doing a bunch of shows and all proceeds go directly to the foundation. I am not getting paid at all, and on August 14, we are doing an actual fund raising event."
He also revealed that his daughter's school is the last wooden structure school in the state, which was grandfather-claused, since so many old schools were redone with brick, so Lewis is preserving history, as well. Lewis also believes that his foundation can actually make a difference, saying, "There is nothing the government can do that the private sector can't do better. I can't allow government systems control the education of my kids. I want to educate my kids the right way, other than home school, so it's like paying to privately educate my entire community." And that's what makes Lewis a true humanitarian for families in rural New England.
Overall, the charity works with local leaders and community organizations that have firsthand knowledge of the needs of their communities. It strives to raise funds and support these community groups who strengthen, engage and enrich the communities they are in, sustain diminishing public services and provide assistance to communities in crisis.