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Making A Difference Through Music

SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — He’s the lead singer for the group Staind and has embarked on a solo country music career. In spite of his overwhelming success, the one thing Aaron Lewis has never forgotten is where he grew up.

Recently, Lewis performed for free at the Basketball Hall of Fame. It was a chance for his fans to hear an exclusive acoustic performance and meet Lewis. It was also a chance for Lewis to talk about his foundation called, It Takes a Community. The non-profit was founded by Lewis and his wife, Vanessa, because of what was happening last year in their town of Worthington.

Lewis told me, “Last year at the end of the school year, they decided to close 3 of the 5 elementary schools in our school district. And in this process, it created a one time savings of somewhere in the vicinity of $60,000 to close all three schools. Meanwhile, the entire administration gets raises, they created new positions for jobs that really weren’t necessary.”

So Lewis and his wife decided to do something and formed, It Takes a Community. He used money from his performances, and profits from the first benefit concert last summer at Look Park in Northampton, to open the private R.H. Conwell Education Center. His foundation pays for everything from desks, books and school supplies to the teachers’ salaries.

He says, “I took the keys to our school and leased the building and between myself  kind of on the financial side of things and my wife and a group of concerned parents in town, we got the school on the 15th of July probably and in that month and a half, we refinanced,  re staffed, restocked, and reopened it as a privately funded community school on September 1st of last year.”

Lewis says the foundation provides a way for rural communities to get some help outside of the money they get from the state and town. “All we heard, Lewis says, was that it was impossible to keep our school open, so I guess that’s not the case.”

The Conwell School will soon open for its second year. But it takes money to keep it going. So for the second year, Lewis is putting on a fundraising concert at Northampton’s Look Park. It’s this Friday and Saturday and will feature a lot of Lewis’ friends from the music world. Friday’s show will feature country music performances from Joe Nichols, Rhett Akins, Frank Hannon of Tesla and Alexa Carter.

Saturday’s concert will rock with Tesla, Corey Taylor (of Slipknot and Stone Sour) and Lo-Pro. Tickets for the two-day event are available through tickets.com or by calling (800) 477-6849.

When it comes to Making a Difference, Lewis says, “I’ve been very blessed to have the career that I’ve had and a lot of people have allowed me to do a lot in my life and any chance to give back, I do.”


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