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Exploring Life & Business with Melissa Hourigan of Parent Rocker Organization

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Hourigan.

Hi Melissa, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Music is a big part of my life. It was an escape for me after the tragic loss of a friend, my brother, and my college mentor all within a close timeframe. I used music to heal the hole left in my heart. Music is what drew me to my husband. I moved to California with my then-boyfriend and his band and took on the role of promotion manager. I quickly learned how difficult it was and pursued an internship at a PR firm in San Francisco to learn more about promotion and PR.

Now 25+ years later., I am still practicing PR for TV, entertainment, and tech clients, mother to three musicians, and wife to a musician. Never gifted with musical talent myself, I realized that I have always loved the idea of promoting others, especially those who are just starting and looking for ways to get involved in helping potential musicians get their chance.

My oldest daughter started playing drums at the age of 7. I learned about a program called School of Rock that makes it possible for kids to not only take lessons but also perform on some of the most epic stages in Colorado. With my two little ones in tow, they also caught the bug my other daughter picked up the guitar and my son played the keys. We knew how fortunate we were to be able to afford a program like this for our kids and give them this amazing opportunity.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Nonprofit work has always been a big part of my life. I have sat on boards for youth-at-risk programs, suicide prevention boards, and organizations that help women in poverty gain job skills to become gainfully employed. All of these efforts and organizations meant a lot to me but it wasn’t until I learned about the Parent Rocker Organization that I truly found the perfect fit. The Parent Rocker Organization is a scholarship program that makes it possible for kids of all ages to have access to the life-changing after-school music program at The School of Rock Denver.

This organization brings my love for music and community together. I have been on the board for seven years and have served as the president for several years. I have seen incredible growth from recipients of our program and love seeing the magic unfold on stage. Confidence, talent, friendships, and connection with others is a priceless reward for the work we do. With all that said, non-profit work is never easy, getting volunteers or people to commit is always a struggle.

The pandemic made fundraising especially difficult when kids weren’t even able to play in front of audiences, rehearse or take lessons in person. And reaching out to individuals and businesses to contribute to our scholarship program is especially tough in a climate where there are so many initiatives taking place and life-saving organizations are also in great need.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
School of Rock Denver is part of a leading performance-based international organization that helps aspiring young musicians master skills, unlock a lifelong passion for creative discovery and develop the tools they need to thrive in life. Students learn to play classic rock instruments, form performance bands with other students, and perform live on real stages in front of Denver audiences year-round.

Many of School of Rock Denver’s talented, ambitious young musicians would be unable to afford the school’s tuition without scholarship support. The Parent Rocker Organization (a group of the student’s parents, grandparents, and friends) provides scholarships for several students per season. The Parent Rocker Organization has provided scholarships to hundreds of Denver area students over the past 10 years.

Parent Rocker Organization is a 501(c)(3) organization established to provide music scholarships for students at the School of Rock Denver. As a parent of three kids who have all played music through the School of Rock Denver for the past eight years, I can tell you that this program is life-changing, builds confidence, and provides an opportunity for many to play at epic venues like Red Rocks Amphitheater.

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
The pandemic had a huge impact on kids. Given that kids were unable to properly socialize and connect with others and lived behind a mask for several years, we saw depression rise, the impact of isolation meant that many kids suffered from the lack of socialization skills, and collaboration and we’re living behind their screens. I know that this impact is long-lasting and there is no quick fix. But I believe the arts, whether it is music, theatre, painting, pottery, etc., have the potential to heal, to bring people together in an authentic way.

To build trust and collaboration and appreciation and an escape from the crazy world that we live in. Music programs bring people together, build trust, collaboration, appreciation and an escape from the crazy world that we live in. These programs should be accessible to all and not reserved for just those who can afford them. These kids have had to deal with so much in recent years and there is nothing better than seeing kids of all ages and backgrounds come together and make music.

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