Poetry Heals had some great stories this week. In this photo, we have a family from Nice, France who wrote poems in French and English. They were visiting friends who live here, and you really can’t tell who is who.
We also get to continue our work with troubled teenagers. We received a check from the Sheila Fortune Foundation to teach Poetry Heals workshops with youth at Inside Out Youth Services and Landmark School.
But I think the best story is about our high school volunteer and young man who has been living rough in Manitou for a few months, Seth. Seth and our volunteer chatted as they lugged the potters wheels into storage and were later seen walking down Manitou Avenue. The volunteer’s grandmother is a good friend, and she told me Seth had been staying with her for a few days. “Oh damn,” I thought. But she was glad about it.
Our volunteer had a tough start in life, and his grandparents have custody of him. He is plenty bright, although he has a learning challenge or two. He is flunking out of high school and is pretty rebellious. When the young men arrived, Grandma demanded Seth bathe and wash his clothes. After that, our volunteer and Seth discussed life, having issues with authority and the consequences of being rebellious. Seth got in his face about it; “What is it worth to you? Do you want to take off? Lose your family?” Seth did take off and has been on the streets for 6 years. He doesn’t regret it, but it has been hard, lonely and occasionally dangerous.
My friend actually thanked Poetry Heals and me for bringing Seth and her grandson together. She wants to make sure her grandson continues to volunteer for us. Seth’s grandmother sent money to my friend so he can buy a bus ticket home, grandma to grandma. Seth plans to leave on Monday.
The moral(s) of the story is (are) : A local teenager had a positive volunteering experience plus a bunch of other stuff. A grandmother got to show her grandson what compassion looks like. A street person got a shower, a bed for a few nights, clean clothes and a way to actually get the money his grandmother wanted to send him. The police had one fewer person on the street to watch. The business people on Manitou Avenue had one fewer person in front of their stores. Poetry and Pottery provided the place and time for good things to happen.
Pretty good story, huh?