All Within Your Hands!
A primary focus of Metallica’s All Within My Hands Foundation has been the fight against hunger. With every stop on the band’s WorldWired Tour, at home and abroad, the guys have made a donation of $10,000 to a local community food bank. That act of touching the lives of people in cities the tour visits inspired members of the crew to start a campaign of their own.
Steffan Chirazi speaks with Sarah Gustafson from Metallica’s dressing room crew, Jim Breuer, and Joe Sib about how they’ve been doing great things to help feed the homeless and, in doing so, inspiring others.
We ALL wonder “how” to help the homeless.
We ALL wonder “how” to help feed or clothe or just offer something.
Sarah Gustafson explains it’s really much easier than you think.
“If you have something in your mind and you want to do it, take it out of your mind and make it happen!” she states with cheerful, yet resolute, purpose. “I’ve been thinking about this for so long. I see homeless people all the time, no matter if we’re in Europe, if we’re in the US, wherever. I see them all the time and every single time I get asked by someone if I have something it bothers me for the rest of the day that I didn’t have something to provide them. I’ve stopped, gone back on the tour bus, grabbed some fruit and, “Here you go, it’s all I have.” In the winter, because I live in Minnesota and it’s freezing, and I can’t imagine being homeless in that weather, I keep a big tote of scarves and hats in my car. And I pull up to an underpass and give them to people who need them. So this is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and in speaking with Jim, it’s happening.”
The “this” which Sarah is speaking of is her continual gathering of all the backstage food and catering left over at the end of each show, getting it packaged and then personally delivering it to the nearest food shelves who are able to take it. Somewhere along the line, Sarah and Jim Breuer had found themselves hanging out on a day off in Albany, NY. It would be a “hang” which led to wonderful actions and deeds.
“She came up to me because she was mad about something I did in my comedy set where I was talking about my wife and how she was a certain faith; she didn’t like that!” laughs Jim, “And then we got a little deeper into conversation, from faith to heavier stuff, and then she got emotional…and she continued to tell me, I mean literally from the heart and soul, how she had this desire to drive around and feed people and she really wanted to do it in her home in Minnesota and there’s so many things she wants to do that she feels like she can really capitalize being out here, out on the road. We get caught up in the, “Hey, we’re working, blah-blah,” but there’s always this desire to do something more soul-fulfilling. And she was extremely passionate about it! I’ve had many experiences in my life where they’re extremely deep and powerful, that I realize at this time in my life you don’t let that opportunity go away. It was a powerful moment. So I said I’m not gonna let this moment go away. And I didn’t! I was a pain in her ass, and during our off weeks we started going back and forth on ideas.”
The two had several conversations before zeroing in on Portland as their first venture out together.
“Portland has a large homeless problem, so we agreed it would be a great place to start this,” says Jim. “I asked Joe [Sib – Jim’s cohort on the tour] if he wanted to join us and of course he did.”
There are a lot of rules and regulations regarding homeless charities and food banks; All Within My Hands works superbly within those bigger lines and is proving itself to be a huge inspiration for others to step it up. This, however, was always going to be a lot more “punk” in both attitude and execution.
Sarah, Jim, and Joe hooked up with Sisters of The Road in Portland, a café in old town whose specific aim is to offer nourishing meals in a safe environment for the homeless.
“They’re great!” exclaims Sarah, “You can go into [their café] if you’re homeless. It’s a dollar fifty, you get a meal and a drink. If you can’t afford it, you can work for fifteen minutes and then you get a meal. There’s a rad guy working there called Damian who used to be homeless himself and is now on the board! I researched food banks we’d be near on tour that we could partner with because they know where the homeless gather, where people are in need. There’s a lot of people in cities that are homeless that don’t have access to shelters, don’t have public transportation, or they’re too scared.”
Not satisfied, Sarah wanted to go another level, as did Jim, as did Joe. Contact was made with Wild Mike’s Ultimate Pizza, who generously agreed to make a whole bunch of pizza, and off they went to the streets where “hellos” were said, pizza given, and memories which will remain formed.
“We had called Danielle from SOTR with us,” says Sarah. “She came with us because she knows a lot of the community, and she also told us the best way to make that initial contact was to simply ask people, ‘Hi, how are you? Are you hungry? Would you like some pizza?’ She said almost everyone would be happy, and they were.”
For Jim, it was an experience he cherishes and will repeat more and more.
“It was cold and all that kept going through my mind is, ‘You know what? I can’t complain. I’m walking across this field with these pizzas. It is so cold, I can’t imagine being out here.’ When I would meet people I’d say, ‘Hey, man, you want a slice?’ And they look at me and go, ‘Yeah!’ And we’d sit there, and I’d go, ‘Dude, take another one!’ You had this brief moment where you’re just two people sharing pizza. Everyone loves pizza, and I know it sounds crazy, but it was this moment of, like, ‘We’re just two people sharing pizza!’ I can first hand say the hands-on experience encouraged me so much to continue on. I do not want this end.”
People around Sarah, Jim, and Joe have rallied to help. Crew members, friends, and also some of the Metallica Black Ticket holders who heard about what was going on have been joining in.
“We’ve had lots of people coming up, from management to people in the crew to friends going, ‘Wow, I had no idea, how can I help?’ I’ve been firing emails back and forth with a friend in Europe, Kazuyo, who’s already contacted four areas!” Sarah beams. Along with Jim and Joe, they will continue to do this in as many cities as possible, and Sarah continues to organize the nightly delivery of backstage food to local food shelves and shelters (in Portland, for example, it was the Portland Rescue Mission which received the backstage leftovers). This in itself requires research as not all shelters are allowed to accept already cooked food, but as Sarah says, the extra effort is more than worth it and she’s not in it alone. Anna Leaf of Metallica HQ organizes the All Within My Hands food bank donations throughout the WorldWired Tour and assists in coordinating some of Sarah’s efforts in select cities.
Remember how this story started with “how” can we get involved? Allow Joe Sib to make it crystal clear.
“When I came out on tour with Metallica, the last thing I ever thought I would be doing would be getting inspired by Sarah to go out and do what we did. And the thing I would say to everyone right now, man, is, go punk rock! Go buy pizza, get your friends and go, ‘You know what we’re doing today? Everyone’s buying an extra-large. We’re going somewhere where people need this and we’re gonna hand it out!’ And I’m telling you right now, those beers that you drink with your bros and your friends at night are gonna be the best beers ever because you’ll be like, ‘Dude, we did something today.’”
Anything… those left-overs you don’t really want, that half a sandwich you won’t finish, bag it up, find someone who needs it and give it to them! Introduce yourself while you’re at it. Many people have suffered some terrible luck, some awful circumstances, and your gesture could mean so much to them. It becomes easier and easier to do, and with each connection you make, there is a person on the other end eating something they wouldn’t have had and communicating with another person.
It’s that easy to start. And then let your good spirit fly.