Steven Tyler Gives Back

The rocker puts his voice where his heart is

Back in 1974 or so, Tom Hamilton and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith sat down and wrote “Uncle Salty” — an ominous ode that drips with the disease of child abuse. Fourteen years later this same team wrote “Janie’s Got A Gun” — a song that shot straight to the heart of the matter and blew it wide open for a generation of music fans. That song, written 27 years ago, also brought an outpouring from girls who had been abused. Tyler got piles of fan mail thanking him for the song and explaining how it helped them through the hardships they faced after being abused.

Roll ahead to 2015. Steven Tyler is still kicking proverbial butt all over the place and now, 41 years after the “Toys in the Attic” album, Tyler has become a philanthropist and is once again putting his voice where his heart is: opening eyes to the crimes of child abuse and neglect, but, this time, without a rock band to accompany him.

Tyler says he did rely on help from friends, like manager Rebecca Lambrecht, who undertook a lot of the research needed to get them going in the right direction. When Tyler knew they were on target, they started Janie’s Fund — to brand his mission — and they partnered with a private nonprofit called Youth Villages to make sure it could make a real difference.

Under Tyler’s direction, Janie’s Fund will raise money and awareness to help Youth Villages provide trauma-informed care and experiential therapies to girls who have histories of being abused and/or neglected.

Tyler says that, instead of reinventing the wheel, he wanted to choose an organization that already had a solid, get-it-done history.  Youth Villages has been around for 30 years and is currently operating more than 60 offices in 13 states. It offers residential treatment, foster care and adoption, in-home services and mentoring. Youth Villages has also been around long enough to know you have to be there for clients at every stage. That’s why they have a transitional program for young adults who are getting ready to move out on their own.

By the way, we have a Youth Village right here in Manchester at 912 Union St.

“It’s over the top for us,” says Patrick Lawler, CEO of Youth Villages, when asked about Tyler’s partnership. He says that, when he and Tyler spoke, he knew he was a perfect match for the mission. And for sure, once on board, Tyler got into every aspect of how Janie’s Fund would be involved. He was in on the logo design and campus visits and met some of the kids and listened to their stories. He wanted to know how the money is going to be spent.

As a father to three girls, he wants to be involved. “What has become his dream to help girls, has been our mission right along. He didn’t just drop off a check,” says Youth Villages Chief Development Officer Richard Shaw. He sees this as a longterm partnership, noting that Tyler is “extremely passionate about this. Steven will bring so much more awareness not only to Youth Villages, but to child abuse.”

“This is what it is all about,” says Tyler. “This matters. What I thought about and dreamed about has become a reality.” He summarizes his outlook like this: “Give it back. Be a somebody who leaves a somebody feeling like a somebody.”  

Categories: Features