Inspired by the precedent set by the Occupy Wall Street movement, which united the world towards a common goal, Sacramento-born Mickelle “Hayón” Hellon founded the non-profit organization OccupyLove WorldWide in 2012, with the mission to “empower the youth of impoverished communities through creative arts, education and cultural exchange.”
From California’s capital to the world, Hayón and his team of OccupyLove volunteers have gone on to uplift communities through charitable donations and hands-on development by approaching some of society’s biggest issues with a simplified and direct goal of nurturing self-love. Since its start, OccupyLove has worked to build a school in Nairobi, Kenya, provided aid for thousands of tsunami victims in the Philippines, along with tornado victims in Oklahoma, and most recently, established a Young Mogul Program to cultivate young creative professionals in Sacramento.
As a firm believer in charity starting at home, Hayón pulled together his network of music entertainment friends, from both the business and artist sectors, to create an innovative program that could capture the attention of today’s youth, regardless of their artistic inclinations.
“We wanted to come up with a way to get in front of the kids and let them know that we got their back,” said Hayón. “It’s hard to put into words the impact you can have on a child just from constantly giving them resources and constantly feeding their ideas.”
In 2017, Hayón’s vision came to fruition with the creation of EDUtainment Pros and the Young Mogul Program, which takes a young group of students through the process of creating a mini mock record label. With the goal of creating a five-song album, the young group learns basic fundamentals of marketing, promotion, engineering, creative writing, production and how to operate as a board of directors. In addition, they learn skills they can apply to any industry, such as teamwork, ambition, self-motivation, leadership, work ethic, morale boosting and self-value. By the end of each school semester, the students’ efforts are put on full display with an album release party known as the Young Mogul Celebration.
With a portion of the proceeds from this event going to OccupyLove missions in other countries, Hayón’s vision comes full circle as the students get to see their efforts resonate across the globe.
“When me and my team go out with OccupyLove and do these missions, I most of the time give a personal message to my young moguls and record it and put in our group text,” explained Hayón. “I have some of the locals that just want to say thank you to them personally, create a video and say thanks and stuff like that, and what that does to their confidence is just, I mean, it’s astounding.”
As a whole, the goal of OccupyLove, The EDUtainment Pros and the Young Mogul Program is to bolster the self-esteem and self-value of each individual within the organization’s reign.
“I grew up coaching and working with the youth pretty much my whole life and the most heartbreaking thing is you have to let those kids go home,” said Hayón. “And a lot of time, a lot of the values and a lot of the things that you’re bringing to the table isn’t nurtured at home, mostly because, sometimes, it wasn’t nurtured for their parents or their surroundings, you know, if they were lucky to have their parents around. So it’s a really tough thing to be able to have any type of longevity with your lessons and what they learn throughout your program or your interaction with them, but if you teach them self-value, then that’s something that sticks with them for quite some time.”
In just fours hours a week throughout the school year, OccupyLove’s mission has rang bells in ways that other programs fail to accomplish in the same amount of time. By bringing in local examples of success from various sectors of the entertainment industry, the students have progressively grown eager to share their own views of what the future could be.
As a visionary man with many hats, HOF co-founder Tony Christ joined the program as a mentor when he experienced a Young Mogul Celebration and realized the organization’s impact had deeper potential than most projects he has come to witness.
“Seeing it in person was what made me want to take that commitment to them and the organization, more so than seeing it online or someone telling you about it,” said Christ. “We don’t even get to see the ripple effect of what this is for the kids’ friends and their brothers and sisters. And the ripple effect is what I think is that big impact.”
On Sunday June 9, this year’s group of young moguls got to celebrate the release of their Angel Music Productions album before friends, family and community supporters at The Guild Theater in Oak Park. The red carpet event exemplified everything OccupyLove’s mission mentions, with a radiant energy that could only come from a youthful group that mutually respects its peers and supporters.
With support from local singer-songwriter Yelly, the young Magical Rock Band and Young Mogul veterans Mai Mai and Savannah, the celebration was a full evening of surprising talent. One could truly not help but feel inspired that the future is in these kids’ hands.
Moving forward, Hayón and the OccupyLove community are looking for ways to include more like-minded individuals on their mission to spread love. One of their biggest objectives is to reach enough people that an international network of support could arise, similar to a fraternity or sorority. While many well-intended people have an “island mentality,” Hayón and his team believe they have the heart and ability to unite these “islands” to create a “positive land mass” that will be able to be seen around the world.
“What it is is that there’s not a lot of people in our life, some of us had great parents that fed that, and some of us didn’t have those parents, that fed our dreams and ambitions and everything like that,” said Hayón. “But one thing that’s prevalent in every child is they’re dreamers, and there’s not a lot of people telling them that their dreams can come true and then showing them how to go about it, showing them their creative value in a professional setting, and being that we’re the ones that are really kind of opening up that door for them is showing them that, ‘Hey man, you guys have got value where you are right now, not just where you aspire to be, but where you are right now.'”
Photos by Cesar Alexander