The office of the Musicians’ Assistance Program is your one-stop shop for musicians’ health. We offer counseling – both one-on-one and in groups – as well as information on all kinds of social services, including health insurance, housing, food stamps and more. All services are free to Local 802 members. Contact us at MAP@Local802afm.org or (212) 397-4802.
I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Siena Shundi, and I’m the new social work coordinator in the Musicians’ Assistance Program. Of course I’d love to get the chance to meet you in person, but in the meantime let me tell you a little about what led me here. Then I’d like to talk about some of the services we offer and about the upcoming new and exciting MAP programs for members.
I actually come from a family of artists and musicians. My father is a successful artist and professor, my grandmother was an oil painter, my brother is a professional mosaicist, my stepmother plays the piano, and her sister is a composer and music publisher – so you can imagine why I choose to study art in college. At the same time I had that “I want to make a difference” bug. I started taking psychology classes and thought, why not use my creative eye to help people? After graduation, I came to NYC and earned my M.A. in social work at Hunter College in 2004.
Since then, I’ve been practicing as a psychotherapist in NYC. I’ve worked in hospital, school and clinic settings in Manhattan and Brooklyn for the past 10 years. I also have a private practice. I have enjoyed helping people in NYC cope with the stressors and pressures of living here. It takes a special kind of person to call NYC home, and having worked with musicians, artists and actors, I’m familiar with the challenge of bouncing back after an illness, loss of work or an emotional issue. I look forward to helping the musicians in the Local 802 community use their inner creative capacity to maintain their craft and a high quality of life in this concrete jungle!
So how exactly could we help you? Well, let’s say you’ve had years of successful gigs that gave you the means to both play what you love and pay the rent. But suddenly you get injured and can’t play for a while and find yourself slipping into a financial and emotional nose dive. And all this time you went without health insurance or much savings. Well, we’re here to help give you the support you need. Maybe we’d help you process what happened and then discuss how you can create a safety net for yourself for the future. We might look into health insurance options, or link you up with our partners, the folks at the Actors Fund, who run a series of seminars that include career counseling and financial wellness.
Or maybe you’ve noticed that your drinking has been causing you to call in sick too often at work and you’ve noticed you and your partner are fighting all the time now? We provide free confidential professional support and could introduce you to the many options of choosing how to live healthier and not allowing a substance to control you. We also might provide you with a list of low-fee, credentialed couples counselors in your neighborhood.
Speaking of mind and body, we recently started a body awareness series for musicians here at Local 802. We have offered (and will again – hold tight; we’re working on it!) a free Pilates class to members by a certified Pilates instructor who has created exercises specifically to help music artists relieve their bodies of the tension of performing. In the meantime, keep your eye out for a health and wellness seminar.
Also, keep a lookout for postings on seminars for affordable housing and health insurance options for musicians. We’ll keep you informed through my monthly column in Allegro and also through e-mail blasts. (Make sure you’re on the union’s e-mail blast list! Send an e-mail to Allegro@Local802afm.org if you’re not, and we’ll add you.)
I feel truly blessed to be here at Local 802 and look forward to meeting you all. Please, don’t ever hesitate to call us if you need anything, even it’s just a friendly ear. Or even better, stop by and say hello! We’re here on the 6th floor of the Local 802 building on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 9:30 and 5. Contact us at MAP@Local802afm.org or (212) 397-4802