For our money, the annual Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM) Day each September is one of the most Austin-centric days of the year. Since its inception HAAM Day had grown in recent years to a citywide celebration with more than 200 concerts in clubs and local businesses who donated a portion of their daily earnings to the nonprofit group that provides health care services to Austin musicians.
When we spoke to HAAM executive director Reenie Collins last year just before HAAM Day 2019 she gave us the details on why the group’s biggest fundraising event is so important when it comes to helping Austin musicians who increasingly don’t have the funds to maintain proper health care coverage. Every dollar HAAM raises gets converted into $7 worth of health care services thanks to partnerships with local health care providers.
On a typical HAAM Day, Collins is up at 3 a.m. to start making appearances on TV news programs to spread the word about the effort and then she spends another 12 to 15 hours visiting performances across the city, from Whole Foods to Frost Bank to Antone’s and more.
“I try to get to as many as I can. Most of the time I’m busy asking for donations the whole day. The musicians who play all make a difference and tell their stories,” she said.
Of course, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has put a large question mark over the fate of HAAM Day in 2020, and Collins has been vocal in local media with her forecast that the group could face a $1 million shortfall in its funding for next year. That would mean cutbacks and wholesale changes to what HAAM is able to offer to Austin musicians at a time when most of them need health care more than ever.
If you’re a business interested in helping HAAM move forward through these challenging times, you can get in touch at www.myhaaam.org.