Over 15 years of doing Innocent Words Magazine, I have certainly been blessed more than I could ever imagine.
We never set out with a plan where we wanted to do this, this, and this in some sort of order. We just started from point A and followed wherever the tides took us. It was a tough go after our first issue, trust me, but somehow, someway we kept going.
Since the beginning, I felt as if Innocent Words was just part of the process of something more. As a child raised with health issues, I’ve always been compassionate to others and wanted to help in any way I could. I never had the intention of using the magazine as a platform to help others, I just wanted to fight to keep the magazine going. But when we made it a year and did that first compilation CD I knew I had to use what I was doing to give back to others.
In the early days, we released a trio of compilation albums with all proceeds going to help the sick kids at the hospitals that saved my life — Riley’s Hospital for Children and Indiana University Hospital of Indianapolis. Even after we stopped doing the compilations we did a book drive, took donations for art supplies, DVDs etc. We don’t have a lot to give, but every little bit helps is a very powerful phrase and it’s true.
Years ago, I met this guy named Louis Posen. I don’t remember how I met him. I think it was through an interview about his record label Hopeless/Sub City Records. The label was built on the do-it-yourself ethics, kind of like Innocent Words Magazine. His label has signed some very popular acts, which have gone on to have great mainstream careers.
Through the interview, Louis and I became fast friends. Turns out we were both afflicted with similar eye diseases. When we met, Louis could only see maybe 20-percent, he only can see shadows of light now. Over the years our friendship progressed as our eye sight diminished. Despite all this, Louis has taught me so much about the music business that my debt to him is priceless. But more over what he has taught me about life far outweighs anything else.
Despite his visual impairment, Louis has built up Hopeless Records to be one of the best punk rock labels of the last 20 years. He started Sub City Records for benefit projects to give back to those in need. He gives countless amount of time and money to charities; he not only supports, but works with blind agencies to help other blind people. He has traveled the world, become a husband and a father and he always has time to return my call or call me every year on my birthday and it means the world to me every time.
Louis is just one in a long line of people who have taught, inspired and supported Innocent Words and me. So many people have come into my life because of this magazine and I am lucky to call them friends. Sadly, I have seen these friends battle cancer, depression, addiction, eye disease, and other ailments. I’ve seen them in tears worrying about where their next rent check will come from. I’ve seen bands get their gear stolen and if I had it my way, I’d fix every single one of their problems to help, but life isn’t that easy. So, I go on my merry little way and silently give back to those who need the help. There is such a stigma in this world that is wrong or embarrassing to ask for help. I just don’t understand that.
If everyone would take five minutes out of their day and call (no texting, no instant message, no e-mail) their friends and family to let them know they were thinking of them, it would be better for everyone. Donate some spare change to something you believe in. Help someone with their groceries, to cross a busy street, hold them door for them.
It doesn’t take much and every little bit helps.