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Hollywood Hard Rock shares love for music with local organization

HOLLYWOOD — The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood is sharing its love for music with those who need it most in the South Florida Community.

Hard Rock International Global Philanthropy Manager Kellie Brown, far left, and Hard Rock Hollywood Vice President of Community Affairs and Special Events Susan Renneisen, far right, provide an honorary check to Face the Music Executive Director Naomi Fabricant and Recovery Unplugged Co-Founder Andrew Sossin to help their foundation continue providing substance abuse recovery to the South Florida community. (Li Cohen)

On March 20, the Hollywood hotel received a $5,000 grant from Hard Rock International’s Hard Rock Heals Foundation to donate the funds to a local organization. This year, Hard Rock Hollywood chose the Face the Music Foundation, a non-profit organization aiming to help people overcome substance addiction through music programs.

Face the Music plans to use the grant for two initiatives: A prevention and awareness music-based program with the Boys & Girls Club of Broward County and a program that supports musicians who are in substance abuse recovery.

The Boys & Girls Club initiative is a three-week program aimed at helping adolescents find a way to express how they’re feeling and what they are going through.

Naomi Fabricant, Face the Music executive director, explained that a lot of kids struggle with bullying, self-esteem or family issues. Throughout the program, Face the Music introduces the kids to songs that invoke their emotions and help them express themselves. In conjunction with the music, they have kids share – whether by raising their hands or verbally – what issues they are currently dealing with to create an environment of support and understanding. At each hour-long session, the students also fill out worksheets so Face the Music can keep track of their progress and work to make the program more effective.

“You don’t have to be a musician or musically inclined to benefit. … We’re giving them this very safe environment to express themselves in a way that they would have never known how to do,” Fabricant said. “We use music and lyrics and vibrations to engage their hearts.”

The recovery program for musicians was created to provide musicians who are 18 and older and struggling with substance abuse a safe place to perform their music. Fabricant explained that reintroducing them to crowds who are fun, respectful and understand what they’re going through “helps them reengage in a healthy way.”

Unlike traditional cognitive behavioral therapies that focus on appealing to mental changes, Fabricant explained that these programs focus on appealing to peoples’ hearts. She said that addicts have a self-manipulative mindset that often leads them away from healthy thoughts and actions. Music, on the other hand, triggers emotional reactions and creates endorphins, which helps with positive thinking and rehabilitation.

“We’re going to help musicians and children,” Fabricant said. “It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Recovery Unplugged, the first addiction treatment organization to use music in drug and alcohol abuse treatment, is the title sponsor of Face the Music. While Recovery Unplugged helps connect individuals to programs and treatment facilities throughout the country, Andrew Sossin, Recovery Unplugged co-founder and CEO, said that Face the Music helps to financially support people getting there.

“The more people that understand what we do, the more people we can help. Every single dollar that we raise, 100 percent goes to save peoples’ lives,” Sossin said, adding that 70 percent of their clients suffer from opioid addiction. “Recovery Unplugged is something different that uses music as a catalyst to save peoples’ lives. We have the Face the Music Foundation because some people don’t have family and friend that will help them.”

Hard Rock Heals – Hard Rock International’s philanthropic foundation – chose the Hollywood Hotel and Casino along with 44 other Hard Rock locations, including the Hard Rock Café, which provided a grant to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. Approximately 200 HRI properties throughout the world applied this year. Every year, Hard Rock properties are invited to advocate for a music-led charity or organization in their area.

The foundation’s Global Philanthropy Manager Kellie Brown said that nobody knows communities like the Hard Rocks and the foundation wants to respect the priorities and objectives of every location. The foundation’s advisory council reviews the applications and makes their decision based on how the organizations use music to help the community, their foreseeable impact and the Hard Rock property’s overall commitment to the Hard Rock Heals Foundation through volunteering and campaign support.

“It’s all about music philanthropy and how music is being used to change lives around the world,” Brown said. “With Face the Music Foundation, its purpose is in recovery in addiction, which is something that really may not pop to the top of your mind when you think about music as a healing agent. To see that there’s great work happening, it’s very well invested and there’s great success and they’re using music philanthropy is really wonderful.”

This is the second year in a row that the Hollywood Hard Rock Hotel and Casino has received the grant. Last year, Hard Rock Hollywood gave the Ann Storck Center in Fort Lauderdale the grant for their work with adults and children with developmental disabilities.

Hard Rock Hollywood’s Vice President of Community Affairs and Special Events Susan Renneisen nominated Face the Music for the grant. She has worked with Recovery Unplugged for many years, and said that their work is an ‘incredible and worthwhile’ cause that means a lot to the community.

“Without philanthropy an organization doesn’t exist. It has to come from your core values, it has to come from your heart and it has to be part of the fiber of your employee base,” Renneisen said. “We try to encourage that and work with an organization that not only allows us to give back, but encourages us.”

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Li Cohen
When she isn't drinking a [probably excessive] cup of coffee, Li is reading and writing about local, national and international news. She can also be seen running around NYC in preparation of marathon season and travelling to new lands. Make sure to check out her work at liyakira.com, send her an email at liyakira9410@gmail.com and follow her journeys on Twitter (@WritingLiYakira) and Instagram (@LiYakira).
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