Tell Your Story Campaign: Spotlight on Rita Hickey

ritaEvery June, members of the NYWC community write stories about their experiences with NYWC as a way to raise awareness and revenue for our programs. This year we will be hearing from eight such individuals. Read their stories, follow the campaign, and support the NYWC Tell Your Story Campaign!

This story is from Rita Hickey. Rita tries to write every day and on those days calls herself a writer. Lately, in between bursts of writing and self doubt, she is finishing an MFA in Creative Writing at the Writer’s Foundry of St. Joseph’s College, Brooklyn.  Rita has been a workshop leader with NYWC since 2010, leading workshops with formerly and currently incarcerated women and men.

Ever since I can remember I’ve loved stories no matter what the form, but I became partial to the way written stories created an experience I may not have known otherwise.  In 2009 while working on another project, I was introduced to the NYWC through one of their readings.  We began our journey in 2010.

Many stories stand out, but I’ll share this one from my experience leading workshops on Rikers Island:

One week a gentleman came into the day room, but did not take part in the workshop.  He leaned against a wall by the window while the other men sat at plastic tables with their paper, pencil and suggested starting point.  The next week, that gentleman took a seat against the same wall while the rest of us wrote, shared, laughed and even cried (yes, cried).  The following week he migrated to one of the tables.  A few weeks in, he wrote during one of the prompts but left early.  Eventually, he wrote and read his piece out loud, receiving much support and acknowledgement from his peers.  He remained mostly quiet, but particpated in the workshop until he was transferred.  Even if he never wrote or read his work out loud, this gentleman experienced the gentle approach of the NYWC.

This June, I am sharing my NYWC story with nine others closest to our work: fellow workshop leaders, volunteers, supporters, and participants.NYWC will be sharing these tales throughout the month and I am asking you to contribute to help NYWC continue the vital work of helping previously unheard New Yorkers find voice.

NYWC is one of the largest community writing organizations in the country. NYWC creates opportunities for formerly voiceless members of society to be heard through the art of writing. They provide free, unique and powerful creative writing workshops throughout New York City for people from groups that have been historically deprived of voice in our society, including at-risk and disconnected youth, the homeless and formerly homeless, the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, war veterans, people with disabilities, cancer and major illness, immigrants, seniors and others.

This is vital work, and I hope you’ll join me in supporting this wonderful organization.

Thanks again — and feel free to forward this to anyone else you think might want to sponsor me too!