Memphis Commercial Appeal – Jan. 10, 2018
by Jennifer Pignolet
Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler has donated $500,000 to renovate a home at Youth Villages, creating the second Janie’s House in the country. Memphis Commercial Appeal
When Aerosmith first released the song “Janie’s Got a Gun” in 1989, it told the story of a girl abused by her family.
Now, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler is committing to help girls like the fictional Janie, and he’s doing it in Shelby County.
Tyler’s philanthropic project, Janie’s Fund, gave about $500,000 to renovate a home for abused and neglected girls in the Memphis area. The home, which operates with public funding through Youth Villages, houses about 14 girls at a time on a campus in Bartlett.
The home will become the second Janie’s House within Youth Villages. The fund also renovated a residential facility in Atlanta, which reopened as in 2017.
The renovations are nearly complete, and Youth Villages will host a ribbon cutting — more specifically, a scarf cutting, in true Steven Tyler fashion — on Feb. 4.
Janie’s Fund is housed within Youth Villages, and benefits its facilities across the country. So far the fund has raised over $4 million. About $500,000 was divided up between four states, including Tennessee, at the end of 2018 to assist girls who age out of the foster care system as they transition to independence. The state of Tennessee will match those funds, Youth Villages Development Director Richard Shaw said.
Shaw said Janie’s Fund is a passion of Tyler’s, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee with Aerosmith who has endured his own issues with addiction. He’s visited the house in Atlanta several times, and each time spends meaningful time with the girls housed there, Shaw said.
“He sits there and listens to them, he sees them and he believes in them,” Shaw said.
The house provides a therapeutic setting for girls to recover from abuse or neglect of some kind, with the goal of it being a short-term stay before they are reunited with their families or another stable home. Most are between the ages of 13 and 18.
Janie’s Fund also goes toward paying for additional activities at the house, like a drumming program.
Aerosmith will also play at Tyler’s second annual GRAMMY Awards viewing party, which raised $2.4 million for Janie’s Fund last year.
The renovations to the Memphis Janie’s House included opening up the space and adding murals with quotes from Aerosmith’s song “Dream On.”
“It is beautifully painted and designed based on Steven Tyler’s input,” Crissy Lintner,
director of marketing and communications for Youth Villages, said.
Shaw said Aerosmith as a group is becoming more involved with the fund, even as it’s Tyler’s project. Youth Villages will be involved with the band’s Las Vegas residency that begins in April.
Shaw said while the money is beneficial, Tyler’s frequent involvement in the fund helps remove a stigma around talking about abuse.
“I think Steven’s given the issue a voice that we could never do at Youth Villages,” Shaw said. See original story
Reach Jennifer Pignolet at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JenPignolet.