Being immersed deep within in a music community is not as glamorous as people make it seem. The connections you make with people are often not very deep and sometimes flimsy. People come and go so quickly that it is a never-ending revolving door of personalities. Sincerity and authenticity, despite claims of abundance, are premium qualities that not many possess.
After 10 years in the Dallas hardcore scene, I can honestly say that Ashley Shafer is one of the most sincere and genuine people I've ever met. I first met Shafer almost five years ago and in that time, I learned a few things about her: She's always smiling, she will always listen and she will help a friend without question.
That's what makes the next part about this article so difficult. Recently, I learned Shafer's struggle with diabetes has reached a point where she needs extensive medical care. Late last week, she learned that her kidneys had begun renal failure. Her body, malnourished and emaciated from being sick, has made it to where certain treatments are presently unfeasible.
The good news is that doctors have prepared a road map that could lead to Shafer being able to make a recovery. The bad news, however, as is the case in the enterprising world of modern medicine, is that Shafer's medical costs have skyrocketed because of the complexity and length of treatment. While Shafer has been in the hospital, a friend of hers named Ashley Hendricks Joyce has started a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for Shafer's medical expenses.
"I really just feel really grateful and blessed to know that, especially at this time of year, these people would take the time out of their own busy lives and the holidays to be so selfless," Shafer says via text message. (In her present state, she's too weak to be able to communicate via other means.) "I knew I was loved, I've never questioned that. My support system is one of the few things that has kept me from falling down the rabbit hole, but I never would have imagined people would be doing this for me. And I never would have taken it upon myself to ask for this type of charity." Even in the bleakest of situations, she was still modest and thankful.
One of Shafer's biggest passions has always been music, particularly hardcore punk. She has been a regular mainstay within the Dallas hardcore scene for years. Power Trip vocalist Riley Gale describes the kind of presence had at Dallas hardcore shows over the years: "She was around all the time, at all of Power Trip's early shows, she hung out at the parties that we and our friends were at. She's not just a person within the community. She's a part of the community itself. We all love her. She's one of the most generous people I've ever met. Without question or hesitation, she would give whatever she could to help a friend out."
Jay Chary of Modern Pain relates a similar sentiment, "I've had countless encounters and conversations with Shafer over the years and never once has she been unfriendly. She's one of the sweetest and most easygoing people I've ever met."
A few years ago, when members of the Dallas hardcore community purchased a DIY spot in East Dallas called Tapatio Studios, Gale recalls Shafer being a frequent regular to hang out and help, "she would bring us supplies and offer to help us pick up around the place which was a mess in the early going. She was always happy to do it. You could tell she legitimately enjoyed helping others."
That's why, in addition to the GoFundMe, local artists have also organized an event called Bash for Ash that will take place on January 3, 2015 in Grand Prairie to help raise money. The fundraiser takes place at Theo's Grill and Bar, there will be an auction, a raffle, as well as a performance by Mo Stevens. All money raised will go toward helping pay for Shafer's rising medical expenses.
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In a time where crowdfunding has become a regular source of criticism for a variety of reasons, Shafer's cause should speak to everyone. This isn't about someone creating a coffee table book or a trip to see the Ukraine; you're helping to save someone's life. You may not know Shafer, but you probably know someone like her. And yet even now Shafer is not concerned exclusively with her own problems: She has an adopted daughter, Taylor, who has become her biggest source of strength and inspiration.
"I don't want Taylor to ever look back and remember me as sick and mean and miserable. I want her to remember me as strong and happy and understand that everything happens for a reason, to remember to walk by faith not by sight," Shafer says. "I'm a fighter, I've been doing this for nine years, and I will continue to fight the good fight, I'm not ready to go yet."
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