The Wallis Community Partners program distributes free performance tickets to a network of over 20 nonprofit agencies in the greater Los Angeles area. The primary goal is to share the arts and help people feel they truly belong at The Wallis. We also aspire to build a web of connections and community.
Debra Pasquerette, Wallis Manager of Community Engagement, convenes these nonprofit partners a few times each year to help them explore new collaborations with each other. Several program partnerships have emerged from these relationships.
September Hill is Community Engagement Associate at Crystal Stairs, a nonprofit agency supporting child care in the LA region. She leads a program called Community Voices that empowers parents and childcare providers to be leaders and advocates. She has arranged for several of the families they serve to attend shows at The Wallis. She also helped recruit her mother to join a Wallis program for older adults called Staged Stories. The class helped her mother strengthen her skills as a writer and a storyteller. Her mother’s positive experience left September with an idea. What if Crystal Stairs could partner with The Wallis to offer a similar program for some of the parents and childcare providers they serve? Debra Pasquerette loved this idea and together they created a project called Your Story, Your Voice.
September Hill shared her belief in this partnership. “As I have gotten to know our parents and providers I have learned more about each of them and their life journeys. There are stories of domestic violence, abandonment, homelessness, addiction, resilience, love, children, family, dreams and aspirations. They have rich stories to tell and they are much more than their current or past condition or the social services they receive. I wanted to see if we could create a space and place to explore these richer stories and provide them a public platform to share.
“Your Story, Your Voice” program has been one of the most meaningful and empowering activities I have done with our Community Voices members. The weekly writing workshops, allowed our members to explore their past, their present and their future. Through Debra’s coaching and feedback, each participant came to the realization that they had a story to tell and it was worthy to be heard. Each participant walked away from the experience more confident, more empowered and with a desire to keep writing.”
You can view a video of the women sharing their stories below.