Welcome to Write Away!
The writing forum for Project Read learners.

We've redesigned our blog so that adult learners working at Project Read can share what they have written with other learners, tutors, and the public. There are a few simple guidelines to be aware of.
  1. This is a moderated site, so submissions and comments will first be reviewed before being approved and published.
  2. Adult learners submitting their writing have the option of using their first name (only) or using "anonymous" for authorship.
  3. We wish to honor the writing efforts of the adult learner/authors, so no major copy editing will be applied, but we may suggest minor corrections in consultation with the author.
  4. Only active Project Read learners are eligible to submit their writing to the Write Away blog and there are two ways of doing this: send submissions via email to projectread@sfpl.org, or stop by the office with a hard copy of your writing.
  5. The views and opinions expressed on this web site are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not represent those of the San Francisco Public Library and/or the City and County of San Francisco.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Break Silence / End Hep C

       Something that I wanted to touch on is the fact that I am a Hepatitis C survivor. Did you know that 1/3 of those diagnosed with Hepatitis C are African-Americans when we only make up 6% of the population? After my diagnosis, I was worried, lost and at one of the lowest points of my life, and I was scared to seek treatment. I was feeling lousier by the day. Upon my diagnosis it was clear that it was the time to act, so I bit the bullet and never looked back. Since then I have attended several support groups and meetings with other people who have been cured, which has given me a new outlook on life. This lead me to do bigger and better things with the AIDS Foundation, the drug addicts union, and the needle exchange program in a way to help others any way that I can. What started as a concern has blossomed into a passion that I will continue to help others with. The way to keep what I have is to give it freely to others. As I continue to pay it forward, I hope others will continue to do the same. BREAKING SILENCE!
- Ms. D. Gigante

Friday, March 30, 2018

You Are Doing the Right Thing

    Without Project Read, my life would be nothing, that is true. I love Project Read and the people are nice. If I have a problem, they help me. It's a great blessing to be here. It's good for everybody to learn to read, to change their lives forever, to reach their goal, and to have a good life. That's a positive thing to do. I never thought I would write something like this.
    I am proud of being here at Project Read and I've learned a lot. It is a pleasure being here. I work with my phonics exercises. I check my email. I look at how to build Fuller truck transmissions. Back on the east coast, we build them on the table, but the one I saw online did it differently. The way they do it here is quicker. I saw how they did the timing. It was different than how I use to do it. I read about how to adjust valves on a Caterpillar engine. A Caterpillar engine is easier to adjust than a Cummings engine on a Mack truck. I learned how to rebuild truck rears from seeing it on a computer.
-- Eugene


    A long time ago, two alley cats, Ruff and Tuff, lived in the alley behind the Cat Lady's house.
    One day, Ruff and Tuff were doing their usual cat scratching act, when they came across a bag with a ribbon tied around it. Ruff swiped at it, then Tuff grabbed it and into the Cat Lady's house they went. There were cats everywhere, cats were on the icebox, cats covered the furniture, cats laid on the shelves. An old tommy cat said, "What do you have there?" Ruff replied, "Well, it's a bag, so it must be a cat." That's when one of the cats said, "Let it out, let it out!"
    Ruff and Tuff both grabbed the ribbon and pulled, the bag came open and out came a fuzzy little furry creature. One of the cats shouted, "What an odd looking cat." The old tom replied, "When you were a baby, you looked different, too." Then one of the kittens asked, "Well, what does the card say?" "Gouda"
    Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. Years went by. Gouda loved his home, he liked taking cat naps, lapping saucers of milk, and chasing balls of yarn.
    One day, Ruff and Tuff ran by him and straight out the door. Gouda thought it was a game of tag, so out the door he went after them. He chased Tuff straight up a tree and out on a branch. Tuff leaped to the next tree and that's when Gouda froze.
    People walking by him started to gather. Gouda then heard firetrucks and saw flashing lights. Gouda was scared and started to howl.
    Gouda was happy when he saw a ladder coming towards him. The fireman brought him down the ladder. As soon as the man put him down, Gouda wagged his tail with relief and ran down the alley.
    When he turned the corner, Gouda was surprised to see a man with a big net. Gouda ran this way and that way trying to escape. He got caught anyway and was tossed in the back of a truck. First the tree, now the truck. When will he get back home to his saucer of milk?
    Gouda noticed that there were other creatures in the truck with him. It was odd that they looked more like him than his brothers back home, he thought.
    As he was thinking about this, the truck started to move. They knew they were off to the pound. One by one, the animals were loaded off the truck and into a giant cage. First went Snow, an 11-month-old energetic little girl, always trying to get other dogs to escape. Next it was Gouda's turn to go into the cage, followed by Tuck, an eleven-year-old dog, or better, for he did not want to move. Right then, Snow kept exciting all the animals which kept the man very busy trying to keep them all in the cage. He was so busy he forgot the gate was open. Out they went.
    Gouda ran side by side with his new friends, panting and wagging their tails. This is when it hit him, he was a dog! He instantly felt closer with his new brothers and knew they had to get away from the dog catcher. So, he brought his new friends as fast as he could down the alley and through the window to join Ruff and Tuff and all the other animals. Gouda was relieved to be home with his old and new brothers. He went over to drink a saucer of milk.
    To this day, people still talk about all the odd cats at the Cat Lady's house.
The End.

-- Russell

Project Read Authors at SFMOMA

Theresa, Eugene, Demetria, Russell & Claudia
Project Read Authors' Night San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Break Silence 4B

Why, when I called 911 when my friends and I were victims of another drive-by shooting in public housing, did I have enough time to speak to two family members and an SFPD officer who happened to be a long-time family friend? And there were no sirens. Why was there such a lack of urgency? More than 30 minutes is unacceptable when you’re only three blocks away. Are we less important because we are not homeowners or paying market rent? It sure seems like it. If SFPD didn’t care about all those black lives lost, why would they care about my blue and green bikes that were stolen on camera? I guess we live on the wrong side of the tracks. We must break silence about the lack of compassion and urgency in SF public housing. We must care about our own black lives to protect and serve our community better by becoming the next generation of SFPD officers.

-Ms. D. Gigante

Friday, September 29, 2017

Artist Statement by Demetria Gigante

Break Silence

Artist Statement by Demetria Gigante

I’m inspired to make art to share my experiences with others. My writing is art because I struggle with a learning disabilities and mental health. My blogs and this collage help me heal from my mental and learning disabilities.

Art has influenced my life because my blogs are my creative way to process my experiences of trauma. It is a healthy way to express my feelings and work on not holding them in. My blogs and collage give me a sense of accomplishment and a way to introduce mental help and literacy to my community.

Art has influenced my recovery from PTSD by understanding more about my mental health and how I feel about my experience with trauma. I know it is okay to have mental health issues and to seek help. With Behavioral Health Services, I will heal. This recovery encouraged me to work on my learning disabilities, too.

Living with PTSD is a work in progress. I started with isolation, self-medication and agoraphobia. These feelings and behaviors caused digressions in my career, life style, goals, parenting and struggles with self-sufficiency. After a recent trauma with another drive-by in my community, I sought help through the Victims of a Violent Crimes organization. They referred me to a great therapist that matched my mental health needs. Collaborating with Project Read, I began my creative journey writing my blog, Break Silence, and working with RAMS to make my collage. With these services, I’m becoming myself, engaging and sharing with others, and learning harm reduction skills. 

(Thank you to Project Read learner Demetria Gigante for sharing her artist statement. Her work will be displayed in the Works in Progress: Second Consumer Art Show at the San Francisco Main Library Atrium from October 1 through mid-December, 2017. There is a reception on Tuesday, October 3, from 4-5:30 pm (program at 4:30) in the Latino-Hispanic Meeting Room in the Lower Level of the Main Library. Information about the exhibition can be found citywide.ucsf.edu/art_show.)

Demetria with her collage at the art show reception.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Herm Lewis

    My name is Theresa Lewis and I'm writing about somebody I admire a lot who came a long way in life - my brother. His name is Andre Lewis, but everyone calls him Herm Lewis. I have seen my brother come from being an addict to being a leader.
    I admire the way Herm changed his life and became a good husband and a great father. He never left his family for dead. No matter how hard it was, he stayed. And it was hard. He went through a lot. He stayed with his wife Rhonda until her death a few years ago. He stuck by his kids. He stuck by his step-kids, took very good care of them and treated them like his very own kids. Nobody could tell by how he treated them if they were his biological kids or his step-kids.
    Herm went from being an addict, from selling weed, to going to prison. Prison turned him around. He came home and he was a spiritual speaker and an advocate. He speaks positively wherever he goes. I look at him as a legend in the community and a very powerful speaker on and off Facebook. I look up to him, admire him, and everyone respects Mr. Herm Lewis to the fullest. If he ever runs for mayor, he'll have my vote!
    When Andre was a little kid, he was a loner and he never caused problems in the family. He was always telling on me. If I smoked weed and he saw me, he ran and told Mommy. I was always trying to sneak and do stuff. He always told on me. I could never get it past Herm Lewis - my brother who I love, admire and respect to the utmost. Good job! Stay being positive and the leader that you are!
    Herm owns his own home, his own business, and works for Golden Gate Scavengers. He is truly a survivor and someone I admire and respect. He's been through a lot so I am very proud of the man he has become today!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Getting the Job Done

    My name is Theresa Lewis. The President wants to build this wall to keep the immigrants from coming here. I did agree with that because I thought they were taking jobs from people here in California. Then, I had to think about all that, and maybe I'm wrong for saying what I'm saying, but this is how I feel.
    Immigrants are the most hard working people that I know. The reason why I say that is who wants to do the farming? Who's going to go out there and pick the cherries? Who's going to go out there and pick the lettuce? Who's going to get the job done? The immigrants are good at that work. Are we gonna go out in those fields, bent over working in that hot sun? I feel like they are good at so many things that we could be good at, but we don't want to do it. We also are not going to take the pay that they offer to do it. I was listening to the news where farmers were talking about this and how they lost so many workers. 

    So, now I ask you. Who's going to do this? Who's going to take that pay? And what are we going to do about it? So, I ask you. Are you gonna do it? Are you gonna go out there in the fields? Are you gonna take that pay? Or, maybe the farmers are going to have to raise the pay so we will do the job.
    At first, I was agreeing with the President, but I'm not so sure anymore. I just feel like the immigrants work much harder and are much faster getting the job done. We do have to eat.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

It's Your Birthday

It's your birthday,
another year has passed.
You're a little wiser,
a little smarter,
a little older,
and a little bolder.

So you think you're not a child any more.
So maybe I don't have to remind you to do your chores.

Soon you'll be on your own with no one to remind you of anything.
And after you cook you can clean your own kitchen.
You can have us over for dinner and cook us a vegetarian meal.

Your mother taught you well so be proud.
It's your birthday and I'm proud of you, too.