A Reflection By Kevin Felisme, Hope House Resident
My time here at the HOPE House continues to be an extremely beautiful growing experience for me. When I reflect on my last eight months here at the PORT, I think about all the moments when I questioned if what I was doing was enough. I struggled a lot with being patient and believing in ideas that seemed way too good to be true. I remember sitting down with David our Executive Director and talking with him about this idea of creating free life skill classes for people in the community. I got the idea from my study abroad experience in Cape Town, South Africa where I led workshops for youth in the neighborhood of Woodstock. My favorite workshop was focused around hip hop empowerment and we talked about the different themes of hip hop music and how it can be used to empower or destroy people. I will never forget that feeling I had after that workshop because we were able to talk about some really serious issues like violence, drugs, and sex. Creating a safe space for that type of serious conversation was a really powerful moment for me and it was something that I would never forget.
So when David and I were talking about this idea in early August, I never truly believed we would actually make it this far into the process. It is not because I am a pessimist, in fact I am the exact opposite. Instead, it was because I had a hard time dealing with the significant amount of patience and faith it required. Patience with the process and faith that if we put the hard work in, everything will come together. Well, fast forward to February and we have an amazing group of female artists that have already moved into our buildings and are ready to hold painting workshops to the community for free. This is truly incredible! If that is not amazing enough, Molly, another Hope House Resident, has taken the initiative on getting a local yoga instructor to come teach classes for free to the community. It seems like when people learn about our workshops, they want to come and teach all kinds of classes for free.
I also reflect back on the days when I would be sitting outside the gym with my basketball waiting for youth to come to our open gyms. It seemed that no matter how much I promoted it, youth just were not interested in what we had to offer. Fast forward to February and every Friday we get a solid group of at least eight to ten youth. Now we are expanding our youth programs to include a teen lounge area that is also in the basketball gym.
So patience and faith are two very important capacities that I have been forced to work on during my time at the PORT. I still continue to have these bold ideas that I would love to see come into fruition at the PORT. So all I need are patience, faith, and a great group of people that believe in continuing to move forward with bold ideas one step at a time.