By MEGAN HUSSEY
From The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon to Hernando Stuff the Backpack and Toys 4 Tots efforts, members of the band Remember When are devoted to spreading charitable sunshine by way of its regular benefit concerts. And, scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, May 8, this nostalgic rock band will be "Rockin' & Rollin' for our Heroes."
Remember When will be performing a special benefit show at VFW Post 10209, 14736 Edward Noll Dr., Spring Hill, with proceeds going to the Veterans HEAT Factory, The mission statement of the nonprofit 501 c3 Veterans HEAT Factory, 16230 Aviation Loop, Brooksville, (352-251-7015) is “Empowering Veterans and First Responders who have PTSD through services that unlock their full potential, inspire personal growth, encourage community integration and support their ability to re-enter the workforce and achieve lifelong success.”
The Veterans HEAT (H.E.A.T. = Honoring Empowering Assisting Training) Factory is a free-of-charge 14-week program for Veterans and First Responders with PTSD. It incorporates an exercise program overseen by professional trainers, yoga classes, art therapy, job assistance, weekly group meetings that address anxiety and anger management, relationships, self-care, nutrition, improving communication skills, etc.
"The band came to us and offered to play a benefit," said Gus Guadagnino, CEO of Veterans HEAT Factory. "They knew we needed money."
The pandemic, said Guadagnino, has created an additional need at the factory, with more veterans and first responders seeking a multitude of services.
"We have professional care workers, and nobody is getting paid," he said. "And we need more therapy sites. There is only so much we can do."
The organizers of "Rockin' & Rollin' for our Heroes" hope to do much for these veterans and first responders, by offering an evening of live, up-tempo music, featuring hits from the decades, dancing, a cash bar, raffles, and a silent auction.
"We'll be playing music from the '50s, '60s, '70s, and '80s that will make people want to dance," said Michael Morelli, drummer of Remember When.
And it is the efforts of the veterans and the first responders that make the members of Remember When want to help the Veterans HEAT Factory.
"We love helping people. It's a wonderful feeling," said Morelli. "And we love to help the veterans and first responders. They don't get enough credit. We felt this is something we had to do."
Both Morelli and co-founder Lenny Nicotri are both veteran musicians, and Nicotri was at one time a member of King Harvest (of Dancing in the Moonlight fame) and Ikabar Krane--a band that once performed as a part of The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon.
"I love helping people, and the veterans hold special meaning," said Nicotri. "My great-grandfather was a World War I veteran."
Both Morelli and Nicotri praise the work that Veterans HEAT Factory does on an ongoing basis to help and support veterans and first responders.
"These people need the services," said Nicotri. "Without the red tape."
And aside from aid, Nicotri hopes that they also can provide quality musical entertainment to all in attendance at "Rockin' & Rollin' for our Heroes."
"These are hot top 50 hits," he said. "They hear the song. They know the words. And they sing along."
Tickets for "Rockin' & Rollin' for our Heroes" are $10 per person and can be purchased at www.veteransheatfactory.com. Call 352-232-8369 or 352-556-5820 for more information.
"For veterans," said Guadagnino, "Music is therapy."
And, as we all can agree, every bar of good music is a ray of sunshine.