Vincent Spean

We first met Vincent
in our Published
Writers Program
. He
wasn’t much for
talking, looked down
vs. up most of the
time - yet never
missed a class. He
was a 26 year-old Navaho who landed in Los Angeles from a reservation in Arizona. Whatever his journey to skid row, there was no doubt he’d seen far more than most his age and his personal walls were thicker too.

  We saw Vincent change .  He wrote courageously and read his work openly. (Read Vincent’s “I Am”(click here). He became a leader in the class, a new hair cut appeared, and he shared artwork (click here) that stopped us in our tracks. There was no mistake, even on small pieces of paper, we could see our Vincent was talented and a new possibility was opening for him.
  Before the end of our 9-week course, Vincent signed up for two art classes at LA City College. UP provided art supplies and he returned our investment by delivering an A in each.  He also signed-up for our acting course to further bring down those walls.
  In acting, we cheered as we saw the artist in him emerge. He worked hard and earning a standing ovation at our “Night of Monologues.” Today, he’s found a job that allows him to work nights so he can attend art school during the day.  With thanks and a huge grin, Vincent let us know he’d now be buying his own art supplies.   No longer the guy looking down, his sights are set on a graphic arts degree and building a body a work for his first show.
 

Vincent Spean
PEDRO ALVARADO, JR.
“This class has meant a lot to me. It has opened my eyes as well as my heart. The class is important to a lot of us – in it we feel like family. Sometimes I wish the class was a little bit longer, but the experience of the writing class was the best thing that ever happened in my life. Being a published writer, reading my poems in front of everyone– I’ll never forget it. I will never forget this journey with my writing family.”
Pedro writes poetry from the heart that touches the soul. Whether its love or sadness, his words stay with you. His dream is to be a caseworker to help families escape a life on the street -- using that big heart of his to touch the lives of others.

GERARDO AVALOS
“This class has taught me that if I can dream and write about it –
I can be about it. I never knew I could write but now I love writing. When I put my thoughts on paper, when we share our work together I know I’m not alone in how I feel. This class has made me a
better man.”
-Gerardo is the father of seven children. He used lessons learned in the writing class to land a job. He wrote his vision, scripted his interview including how he would sell his qualifications and then made it real. He was also the inspiring subject of a Telemundo television story that showed the impact of our program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MICHAEL BOYD
“This class has changed my life. I didn’t know I could write – didn’t think I had anything to say. Now I stay up writing late at night. I write every day. Instead of getting in a beef with someone, I write it down. Ideas and dreams, I write them down. I got a journal for my 5-year old daughter so she can start writing now and I have my brother on death row writing too.”
Michael is now writing his life story and inspiring his brother and other friends who are serving life sentences in prison to write theirs too. A gifted salesman, he opened the door for a classmate to show his work at a trendy LA gallery. Michael recently left LA’s skid row to reunite with his family in Pittsburgh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PHILA KHAMVONGSA
“When we write our ideas on paper, it is an expression of who we
are inside. I learned a lot from the writing class It’s helped me to express myself better and taught me about the world of writing.
The people in our writing group possess great talent – and talent doesn’t come from nothing. We need this class so it can be produced and developed.”
Prone to open our classes with song. his poetry transports you to his favorite places and now he wants to help others go places too-- through education. Phila is realizing his dream of becoming a teacher and is now working as a teaching assistant in the URM Learning Center.

JEFF NORSTAD
“I have learned to write out my thoughts and emotions instead of acting out in a negative manner. Through this class I have also discovered that there is a lot more to people than it sometimes seems and that a lot of what you don’t see is very positive and deep.”
Jeff is a creative soul. Appreciates arts and letters, has a love for the outdoors and an eye for photography. He and his father are both residents of Union Rescue Mission
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GEORGE RICHARDSON
“After a lifetime of thinking and wanting and wishing I could, now I can. I have always wanted to write. I have dreamed of writing but could never get up the nerve to go past the titles and phrases that were thoughts in my head. Thank you.”
George is the group’s senior statesman and scholar. His wisdom and humor set that stage for heartfelt sharing whenever we gather. He continues to write wonderful work that teaches and inspires us all. He is leaving skid row to reunite with his family at the end of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

DeANDRE WATSON
“The writing class took me to a place where you couldn’t find me. I would sit and put all my hurt and anger on paper and it would keep me out of trouble. This class put me on a higher level. It made me stronger within and out. Thanks for caring.”
Even with chronic vision problems that have required multiple surgeries, DeAndre has the distinction of producing more written work than anyone in the class. He continues to put pen to paper, bravely expressing his deepest dreams and emotions. His stories are poignant and insightful.

 

 

 

 

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