The Lead: You’re Not In This Alone: introducing the Hope For The Day list series

January 14, 2013
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Every day, we are bombarded by negativity. Whether it’s a horrible tragedy we see on the news, an ad that makes us worry about our physical appearances, a snide comment on a website, a fight with a family member or friend or simply one more thing gone wrong on a day when nothing seems to go right, we’re constantly discouraged by the outside world and ourselves.

AP and the non-profit Hope For The Day are very much aware of that and want to encourage you. Instead of focusing on the negative, we'll be bringing you a bi-weekly list of stories, things and people that give your favorite artists hope, starting today with Hope For The Day founder and executive director, Jonny Boucher and our editorial staff. Our goal is to remind people to that no matter how bad things get, there’s always something to hold onto.

A longtime member of the Chicago hardcore scene who has run the gamut of jobs in the music industry from booking shows to touring in bands, HFTD founder Jonny Boucher says the idea for Hope For The Day started to take shape during a trip to Mexico in 2010, when he got the news that his boss, a man whom he idolized, had killed himself. Filled with the dread that he would be returning home to a funeral, and with the constant reminder of the impact of suicide in his friend Mark Ehlert, a drummer whose failed attempt to shoot and kill himself in 2004 left him blind, Boucher knew he had to make an impact; he could turn his love for music into something positive. When he returned to the States and found himself immediately in an argument with a colleague in the industry over a couple hundred dollars, the need for a change was solidified.

“It really made me realize that what I was working for was not something wholesome. What I was doing was not what I really wanted to do anymore, because I wanted to give back and I needed to care for others,” says Boucher. “I didn’t want to care about record sales. I didn’t want to care about profit margins. I wanted to care about the people that we were all depending on to sell these records. I wanted to care about them personally because they all have stories, and they shouldn’t be looked at as consumers. They should be looked at as humans.”

He set to work immediately, researching non-profits and building Hope For The Day, a movement that champions music and arts as a defense mechanism to suicide. Despite the high expense of growing a non-profit in Chicago, Boucher stuck to his roots, both in the city and within the music scene, but now with a more positive focus. “It’s just a community I’ve always loved to be a part of because we’re the ones that took that chance,” he explains. “It takes a lot of chance to do something like being in a band and stepping out of a comfort zone of a job that pays you well and hopping in a van with some of your friends.”

He has leaned on music and art to express himself for so long, gathering stories of musicians willing to speak up and sharing that way of coping with those who are struggling became a natural mission. “We go backstage for a different reason now, and it’s a better reason, because we’re serving something more than just a party, and we’re not just trying to get people on board to sell our product. At the end of the day, yeah, we are a product, but we don’t sell branded items. We sell hope; we sell recovery.”

Though only a little more than a year old, Hope For The Day has reached thousands by providing outreach at concerts, festivals and community events, where they talk one-on-one to those who take an interest and provide them with recovery information and resources. While traditional medical professionals may scratch their heads and wonder how on Earth to reach youth, HFTD have found a way to get out and do it, using music and the arts as their medium.

“I would rather be the person who jumps in front of a situation and gives someone a talk rather than having to hear a story about someone committing suicide and no one paying attention to that kid or paying attention to that person,” Boucher says.


In October, we partnered with Hope For The Day to bring you the Music Saved My Life video series, which you can catch every other Tuesday on our YouTube channel. Artists such as the Gaslight Anthem, August Burns Red, Title Fight (embedded, left) and more have sat down with HFTD to tell us about the impact of music on their lives. The series allows Hope For The Day to spread the message of music as a pathway to recovery on a much larger scale. And it’s just the first of several far-reachins projects, including documentaries and music lessons, they have in the works.

“You get to hear someone’s story, and that allows you to relate to them more deeply than you already feel that you could relate to them because you passionately care about the music or art that they produce,” says Boucher. “You, all of the sudden, can care about them more and get more in-depth with that song because you realize that that person who wrote it was going through the same stuff that you’re going through. So, maybe there is a way that we can get through this.”


What inspires you to carry on? What helps you see the good in the world? On page two, Boucher and the AP editorial staff share some of the things, people and stories that shine a light on the positive in the world for them. Give us your lists in the comments. Who knows? You might inspire someone today.

Click through below to read our lists

Written by Cassie Whitt