There. Just like that, we’ve made ourselves known. Listen to that word “hello” for a second. Hear that timid beginning, no more than a breath, yet insistent; then, hear the “L” sounds unlocking and the word opening, extending toward you. That word is spoken from just one voice out of throngs, just one blog out of millions, just one life known out of many. But this is how we work. Changing one life at a time.
The Zine Project is a prevocational writing program that takes place at University District Youth Center (UDYC), a Seattle drop-in center for homeless youth. Zine hires five homeless youth (15-22) to take part in an eight week internship where they learn, write, and make art. Their efforts culminate into a Zine (short for magazine), an original publication bearing their truth–including their poetry, stories and, most importantly for Zines, their authenticity.
As Zine Instructor, I could tell you more about what we do. But because this is a blog about youth voice, I think I’ll let one of our Zine all stars, who we’ll call Ana, lead you to the heart of who we are and what we can do for young people.
Excerpted from “Ana’s” Thank You Zine
I had recently separated from my boyfriend. I was pregnant, I was lost, confused and scared for what life had in store for me. I had many questions running through my head. What had I done, where would I end up, why would this happen to me? All the while trying to convince myself that I had chosen correctly. Reassuring myself that I had already taken the role of an adult and made a decision that in the long run would be best for my son.
1. Head north on 4th Ave SW toward SW 150th St. I was determined not to return with him. It was hard to justify his actions despite his good side, his small gestures. What seemed like an honest apology and a promise to change. Deep down I knew a fairy tale story was impossible. I did not have an exact reason why but I knew it couldn’t work….
2.Take the 2nd right onto SW 148th St. I gathered the little strength, courage and self confidence I had. I held my head up high and continued to follow a path that would allow our lives to flourish; like the flowers in the spring. To be strong and tackle challenges that presented themselves, head on. Growing inside me was the love and tenderness I needed to proceed and at that point it was all that mattered.
3.Continue onto Wa-518 E. My sister talked to me about a facility that provided homeless youth with different resources. Particularly short term employment. I was reluctant to go this place, but again I reminded myself about my goal to be successful. It was March of 2010. I was introduced to the Zine Project Case Manager, Kevin. He was very kind and welcoming.
4.Take exit on the left onto I-5 N toward Seattle. Instantly after, I was also introduced to Yuka, a Case Manager. Yuka was able to help me with various resources…She would take me to appointments. She was a person I could rely on… She was my motivation which gave me an extra incentive to work hard for what I wanted. Thanks to her guidance, I was able to accomplish my set goals of employment and housing.
5.Take exit 169 toward NE 50th St. Groundwork, UDYC’s wrap around project, was yet another resource that assisted me with challenges I encountered. My Wrap Around facilitator, Sue, helped me set goals for myself and assisted me completing them….
6.Turn right onto NE 50th St. UDYC is a place where youth are welcome regardless of their race, color, sexual orientation, religion, or living situation. UDYC is a place where youth are able to find assistance and resource referrals… job opportunities, case management, education, and personal hygiene.
7.Turn right onto 15th Ave NE. At seven months pregnant, totally confused and lost. I came to UDYC; I was welcomed with open arms. I used the drop-in services such as washing my clothes, having lunch and also I obtained many of my pregnancy clothing from the clothing run. I spent a lot of time at UDYC because it was a place which I found comfort, resources, friends, many types of assistance, guidance, most importantly; UDYC was a place that I found my courage and motivation to keep working towards my goals…UDYC has helped me pick myself up from a tough situation and until this day I continue to count with their help.
4516 15th Ave Seattle WA 98105. Thank you.