Singer and song writer Chris Leamy carries his guitar around the streets of New York City to perform, but what makes him different from the hundreds of musicians roaming the streets of the Big Apple is that he performs next to homeless people hoping they could get more cash. The 28-year-old musician decided to use his music to help others with his campaign using the hashtag #HePlaysForMe. Leamy started this campaign last year and has raised around $6,000, with over $4,000 going to Bowery Mission charity, which aims to transform lives by providing some needs of homeless people such as meals, emergency shelter, and medical care, while the rest of the money goes to the homeless individuals he played music for.
Leamy told TODAY , “It started last year when I was coming home on the subway late one night carrying my guitar and a homeless woman holding a cup said, ‘This would be much easier if I had one of those,’ and pointed to my guitar case.”
That moment gave the musician the idea and he then started going around the streets of New York having small chats with homeless people and asking them if he could play for them. Whatever money they made during the performance is kept by the homeless individual.
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I wanted to see if it would be possible to change the life of ONE homeless man using #heplaysforme. The goal of this #30daychallenge fundraiser is to get Miguel back on his feet. We calculated it would take $500 to turn his life around. Any money I raise playing on the street, I'll personally match with a donation to the fundraiser (link in bio). The first $500 goes to help Miguel (I am going to work with him every step of the way). Anything over that goes to the Bowery Mission! Excited to get started. @bowerymission
Leamy, who recently had a distribution deal with Sony to release his first music video, still gives back with the goal of helping the homeless. The musician is making a difference through his campaign, but what is more inspiring is how #HePlaysForMe went beyond by changing a lot of stigmas about homeless people. Through the stories shared by the musician through his Instagram about the homeless people he have met, it has opened the reality that most homeless people are not a bunch of drunk or lazy people but actual human beings who are struggling in life because of difficult circumstances. The campaign encourages us to stop judging people and make a difference in the lives of others in our own simple ways.
I asked Joe if he needed a few bucks, he said “Sure do–would love a chat as well, if you have a minute, been a lonely morning. The name’s Joe.” We talked and I gave him some money. He teared up a bit then asked “How’s your toilet?” He’s a plumber and offered to fix it anytime. “Let me know if it gets a little backed up, we don't even need to tell your girl that you messed it up. Or your mom! if you still live with her. No judgement here.” #heplaysforme
Recently, one of the homeless people he was playing for was officially off the streets, and he was more than delighted to share the news on Instagram. And with one off the streets all because of his campaign, Leamy is not stopping and will continue playing for a great cause.
“There is no better reality check than having a chat with someone who keeps all the possessions they own in a small bag. I leave each session incredibly humbled,” he said.
The musician says that the greatest reward he gets from doing the campaign is the gained experience especially through the stories shared with him that continue to inspire him.
Here is one of Chris Leamy’s street performances last year: