September was an exciting month for HeartSupport. We were featured on the Front Page of Twitch.tv for our live stream; we produced over 450,000 minutes of encouragement for our community; we had our Strategic Plan and Annual Board Meeting; we’re releasing our first short film series, and we’ve had a handful of moving life change stories that have reminded us why what we’re doing here matters. This month has reinvigorated our team and reconnected us to the purpose God has for us in bringing about the restoration of this entire music scene. Read below the various successes September brought, and with the wind at our backs, we’re looking forward to a powerful season ahead.
STRATEGIC PLAN SUCCESS
Every year, we gather as a team after Warped Tour to discuss what we as an organization want to focus on for the next year. On September 22nd, we spent six hours laboring over strategy in the board room at K&N Management, and we walked away with a clear picture of what this next year is going to look like for HeartSupport. Our team unanimously decided to work on a vision God gave Nate back in February that will systematically bring our community into deeper levels of engagement and healing. It’s an elegant process that will touch every aspect of HeartSupport’s community and offering, and it will not only enable us to reach more people, it will also help us draw each person to engage more with what we have to offer and receive more healing as a result. Our team has never been more unified and excited, and we’re overflowing with passion and energy right now. 2018 is going to be a huge year, and we’re glad to have you with us.
MONTHLY GIVING INCREASE
On the tails of this meeting, we’ll be seeing if any of our supporters want to increase their monthly giving to accelerate the growth of this vision. We’ll contact you sometime next week and ask if you want to modify your giving amount. Around this time every year, we want to give every Amplifier the opportunity to increase if you’re able and willing. Either way, there’s no pressure, and we’ll only contact you twice (the campaign starts Monday and ends Friday).
SHORT FILM: LOVE, MAGGIE
Starting Wednesday, we’ll be releasing a three-part film series entitled “Love, Maggie” (the image you see in the header is a clip from it). It captures the heart and vision of HeartSupport, and it’s powerfully moving. We’re sharing this series privately with our donors (you and others who have given in the past), and we’ll be releasing it to the public in the lead up to #givingtuesday in November. So enjoy the sneak premiere over a month ahead of the public!
NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION WEEK SUCCESS
For those of you who don’t know, our “Live Stream” is the most active and growing part of our community at HeartSupport. Think “Facebook Live”, but HeartSupport content. Basically, we take posts that people have written in on our Support Wall (the forum on our site), and we discuss them with our community in real time. The people watching have the opportunity to type in their thoughts into a chat room that our staff (Dan and Casey) can read live while they’re streaming. This allows our community to interact in real time with our staff and our band guests, talk about the posts other people have written, and write in their own personal struggles as well. It offers people a place to be accepted, to belong to a community, and to receive encouragement in a way that feels more “real” and “tangible” than posting on a forum and waiting for someone to respond. Our Live Stream happens four days a week for two hours per stream. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can tune in to heartsupport.com/live on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 4p-6p Eastern time.
For National Suicide Prevention Week (NSPW), HeartSupport invited four different band guests to the stream to share their story and talk about struggles that underpinned their thoughts of suicide in the past. Twitch (the platform we use for streaming) decided to host us on their front page, pushing hundreds of people to watch our stream who might not have ever known about HeartSupport. Throughout the week, 3,200 or more people tuned in. But they didn’t just tune in — they stayed. People were captivated by the courageous conversation that was happening, and when the week was said and done, the stream alone had created 320,000 minutes of encouragement. The success of this event piqued the interest of Twitch as an organization continuing their partnership with us. We are talking to them about multiple levels of partnership, the first of which being that Twitch will host us again on their front page for World Mental Health Day on October 10th. If you’d like to watch, mark your calendars for next Tuesday from 4p-6p EST, and tune in. Jake Luhrs will be the guest on that stream!
LIFE CHANGE IN OUR COMMUNITY
This past month we’ve had multiple people update us on the success in their recovery, and we hope their stories encourage you like that have encouraged us:
From a Mother
We had a mom from our community share how volunteering for HeartSupport helped her daughter: “She’s 16 and just participating two years ago in fundraising for Heart Support helped her deal with her anxiety and stress.” One of the things we noticed is that social anxiety is particularly crippling for our demographic because of the shift from in-person to online relationships. People depend on the safety of online connectivity and fear risking rejection when interacting with others in person. We’re seeing a correlating trend between increased social media use and increased feelings of loneliness, which is one of the core elements underpinning so many struggles we fight against at HS. Feeling isolated and alone keeps people buried in shame and cycling in their habits. Hearing from this mom that volunteering for us broke that cycle for her daughter, while it seems insignificant, is incredibly powerful.
Rewrite on the Live Stream
Dan and Casey send free copies of Rewrite to anyone who wants one on the HeartSupport Live Stream. They send a PDF immediately after the stream and ship a physical copy to them that same day. One of the stream viewers wrote back to them a few days after receiving the PDF with this encouraging note: “I just want to say thank you for sending me the PDF. In all my years of dealing with self harm and mental illness, basically no one has said to me ‘I know you are struggling’. I’ve had so many doctors/family members/friends/professionals not take me seriously. A couple of years ago, the last time I took myself to the hospital because I was a threat to myself, I actually ended up hurting myself in the emergency room, and they basically looked at me and sent me home. I’ve had counselors look at my arms covered in cuts and tell me they did not think self harm was an addiction. It really helps a lot knowing there are people who take me seriously and actually want to fight beside me. It’s really good to know I actually am surrounded by people who care and who understand…It’s actually giving me hope that this time I might get better.”
One Year Later…
Sometimes we don’t get to hear the fruit of the seeds we sew into people’s lives until months and months later. In this case, someone on the stream reached out to us on their one year anniversary of being free from self-harm: “But just know, your ministry has changed my life. I’ve been a year today totally free from self harm. Your testimonies and encouragement kept me sane. God sure has blessed me with you all, and I hope He can use me in affiliation with you to reach others. Love you all so much! Can’t wait to meet you someday :)”
One Video and One Post
Sometimes it’s easy to underestimate what one simple video from a band can do in someone’s life. This girl felt so connected to the message of an interview we did with a band called Sleeping with Sirens that she went to our Support Wall for the first time and wrote out her story. The acceptance she received from those who responded to her post brought her out of a low she felt she would never climb out of. Sometimes it’s the simple parts of what HS offers that helps people pivot their lives: “HeartSupport is actually the only place I felt like I could vent to/speak out loud for the first time after I was silent for the longest [time]. If I was talking to anyone I know, rarely, but whenever I did, I didn’t feel like I had a voice. Everyone making decisions for me or talking behind my back, [while I was] going through the lowest emotions I’ve ever had. I didn’t like talking about what happened to me either, because I felt ashamed from being sexually assaulted and prior abuse. I bottled it up. I felt like a failure, when deep down, I know that’s not the truth. I watched a HS Sleeping with Sirens interview and checked it out. That was over a month ago. I’m not feeling the same way one day at a time since that day. Since I wrote, got it out and read some feedback. I’m feeling that if it wasn’t for that, I would be in that place I was in still. HS is amazing. It’s pretty awesome as well in modern mental health services. Thank you sooo much because you guys are great!!”
ADDITIONAL WAYS TO GET INVOLVED
The HS team has been revamping and developing our Volunteer Team- The Pit. Our Volunteers receive a text on the 3rd of every month (just like you do) with an opportunity to serve the HS community. We call it our “volunteer team for busy people” because volunteers can choose to take the opportunity if they have time or pass and wait for next month if they don’t! If you’re looking for more avenues to get involved, text thepit to 33222, take the survey, and we’ll send you that opportunity.
WHAT’S AHEAD IN OCTOBER
- World Mental Health Day stream on October 10th
- Release of our first short film: Love, Maggie
- Focused refinement of our volunteer team
Thank you so much for your continued support- you are appreciated more than I can say. We couldn’t do this without you. Until 11/3!