THE FRIENDSHIP FESTIVAL
Andy loved music. Playing it. Listening to it.
In February 2012 Andy’s family and friends wanted to do something in honor of his 25th birthday. In the weeks before, Andy’s close friends proposed the idea of a music festival as something he would have loved: bringing people together through music. The first Friendship Festival was birthed on February 9, 2012 at The Kingston Cafe in Pasadena, CA. Three music acts performed, as did speakers on the topic of mental illness and suicide prevention. There was good food. There were vendors selling wares along the lines of the theme of celebrating the vital relationships and connections in our lives. It was fun. We sang “Lean on Me”. We danced. We raised money. We donated to St. Francis Center in Los Angeles, where Andy had volunteered during his recovery, and where the initial Andy Wade Friendship Fund was created upon his death. Proceeds were earmarked to help the young and newly homeless (due to mental illness and/or substance abuse) stabilize their lives.
In February 2014, we held the second Friendship Festival at the Scott Pavilion in Pasadena, CA. This time we celebrated the creation of The Andrew Wade Friendship Foundation as a 501c3 private charity organization. The model was the same. We had fun. We danced. We sang. We learned more about mental illness. We raised money for the Foundation’s start up.
We are now building on this model in a new way, through our internship program. Our first intern, Mallory Kenny, a senior at California Lutheran University, is advancing mental health messaging through social media and student clubs. In the fall of 2018 she is coordinating a Friendship Festival on campus, early in the school year. The idea is to bring students together for a fun musical event that also educates and inspires students and staff about building mental wellness, being aware of their own, and others’ mental health, and knowing how to obtain help before something turns into a crisis.
We are learning with Mallory, and hope to replicate this model to other college campuses to promote mental wellbeing, edifying relationships, while educating about mental illness, and suicide prevention. Proceeds from events will fund innovative programs that promote the recovery of young people to full wellbeing after an episode of severe mental illness.