Time to Remember – Time to Act: International Overdose Awareness Fundraiser and Benefit-Interview with Sarah Lyn -By Niki Kaos

Written by on August 30, 2022

RRX: Hi Sarah – we’ve been friends from way back, and I’m excited to be partnering with you on the benefit coming up at The Hangar in Troy, NY on Wednesday, August 31st! It looks like an amazing line-up, including Lizzie and The Makers w/s/g Reeves Gabrels, Raisinhead and Curious Comet. Tell us about what people can expect and if there are any surprises in store? Perhaps some special cover songs in the works to be performed that night?

SL: Yes! I’m very excited and nervous because this is a cause so close to my heart and my family. We are bringing awareness and raising money for International Overdose Awareness Day and also for a very amazing soul, Steven Hoinski, who happens to be my very first crush, turned very close friend, turned my daughter’s father who lost his life to a fentanyl overdose on 7/31/2020. His only possession that can benefit his three children is his home in Waterford that is facing foreclosure due to two years of non-payment, but we are desperately trying to save it. I am so excited to have so much talent to share with our community and have asked each performer to include a favorite song of Steven’s. He was very much a lover of music! I’m also excited to introduce the Troy Community to Lizzie and the Makers and Reeves as their special guest as it will be their long-awaited debut in Troy all the way from Brooklyn, NY!

RRX: This benefit is personal because someone we loved and cared about is gone from our community and has left many feeling a deep loss. This has especially impacted your family, and in times like these it is important for us to come together. I hope this isn’t too personal, but is there anything you can share about what it has been like for you and how you hope this benefit will help?

SL: My will to live is my 8-year-old daughter, Vada. She absolutely adored her father, and her two older siblings did too. I personally have no memory of August 2020. I was in so much emotional turmoil. I still am, day to day it changes. I still pay for his cell phone bill. It took me almost a year to forward his mail from our apartment in Brooklyn. I wish this pain on no one. I was so angry when the results came back as a fentanyl overdose, but I was also not surprised. We got the results on what would have been his 45th birthday on October 29, 2020. He was troubled, but also amazingly talented, funny, spirited, weird and loved his children more than anything. I don’t want anyone to feel this pain ever again. I would like to repeat this event annually if it is successful and have the proceeds benefit another family that has had to suffer the same pain. 

RRX: You’ve cooked up an awesome playlist I’ve been grooving to on Spotify to get psyched for our show on 8/31. From the Talking Heads, Devo, The Velvet Underground, Sublime, Fishbone, Minutemen, C and so many more. It is an eclectic mix that I love! What do you think it is about music that brings us together?

SL: I’m a visual learner and have an auditory memory. I can smell things when I hear a song from my past. I love it. Music tells and keeps a story you could never put into your own words and have anyone understand but yourself. At least for me. My first really great job was at Music Shack in Albany. I got it by chance. I will never be more grateful for anything than having that job that paid $5.25/hour. I learned so much about music, boys (all of them were like my big brothers, and gross but loveable), the music industry in general, marketing and learning to appreciate things that weren’t “cool” but still good. (Closet Taylor Swift fan SHHH!!). I worked amongst legends I never even knew (Tim Parent/Section 8, Kevin Maloney/Withstand, Dan Neet/ The Clay People… Karyn Crisis, Jason Bittner and the list goes on. The arguments over the daily playlist which was a five CD stereo (very modern at the time). It molded me and I will never forget those days.  I cherish them. High Fidelity, the movie, and the series kinda encapsulates it all.

Also, Steven and I both had the same taste and distinctly not the same taste in music, which was such a spirited and amazing part of our relationship. I loved talking and arguing about music with him. This song list and event celebrates that. 

RRX: Super cool way to grow up surrounded by music! I can see why you became such a champion and fan of the scene. Musicians and music fans are aware that sometimes drug use is part of the scene. And many of us have lost dear friends and family members to addiction and overdose. What are some things you’ve learned that might help people have an honest conversation about such a challenging issue?

SL: I’m never going to tell someone how to live their life. I’m also never going to judge someone. However, I will point out where to be honest and how to recognize signs. I realize the irony of having a fundraiser and benefit for drug awareness at a bar. But honestly this is something we have normalized, so we just need to be aware of possibilities. I’m honored to have Will and Tim from Above Ground Podcast supporting the event to supply information for mental health support. We are also looking into booking other speakers to co-host and make the night an educational and community event that just also happens to have kick ass entertainment.

RRX: That resonates with me so much. I’m grateful for your honesty about how to work on this and support people in our community. Especially the musicians who are so creative and struggle with this issue. It is awesome that you are pulling together resources on hand at the event. I also want to point out your email signature, which I found particularly inspiring! I love how you are working at the grassroots level to share information with people and inspire self-education.

SL: “The more you read, the more you know. 

         The more you know, the smarter you grow. 

         The smarter you grow, the stronger your voice, 

          when speaking your mind or making your choice.”


RRX: How can people find info on the event?

SL: Find all updates on Facebook event #FortheLoveofSteven for where to buy tickets and times etc.

RRX: Thanks so much for sharing this personal experience. Can’t wait for the show on August 31st. It will be a blast!

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