The Salvation Army has been privileged this year to welcome poetry teacher, Dvora Levin, to the Addictions & Rehabilitation Centre in Victoria. Levin has been teaching poetry to ARC clients since March, 2012. The classes offered emotional support to clients as a means in which to express themselves. In addition, new skills through a new or renewed interest in poetry and writing were developed.
But how did this partnership between Dvora and The Salvation Army come to be? Well, read Dvora's own account of how she met the ARC. A great example of how a small commitment of time to volunteer can reap tremendous results for the community:
Last Christmas Day, three friends (Alex, Aharon and Ada) and I volunteered to serve Christmas dinner at the Salvation Army residence in downtown Victoria. Coming from the Jewish Community, we don't celebrate this holiday and thought we could free up some of the regular volunteers to be with their families. We can only say our experience that day was perfect with so many benefits for volunteers and residents alike. Alex, who came from Russia as a child, found a volunteer practicing his English but delighted to be able to speak his native Russian with a new friend while serving delicious food. Aharon, who studied law in Ireland, found a fellow Irishman to chat with while dishing up the food. Their friendship continues. Ada spent time with the person who led the opening prayer. And I sat with the residents to learn about their interests. It was then I realized how many of these men could write, some had experience writing songs or stories. The atmosphere was so delightful, I decided to offer my services as a poetry writing facilitator. I met with Gagan who referred me along to Doug Llewellyn where I began weekly writing sessions with men in the Addictions Program. I have just finished the second group, all of whom read their own poems at their graduation ceremony. What an honour it is for me to be able to hear their stories, see their progress in writing and their courage in reading their own works in public. At the request of The Beacon of Hope House, a Salvation Army rehabilitation program for teenage men, I now offer a poetry writing program there as well.
We all need to be mindful of how every man at the Salvation Army has both a unique story and hidden talents, sometimes hidden even from himself. My brief volunteer effort on Christmas Day turned into an ongoing present to me and everyone involved in creating poetry. Residents' poems are being published in a new collection VICTORIA ON THE BANKS OF THE MAINSTREAM, an amazing accomplishment for these newly emerging poets from the Salvation Army recovery programs. The book launch is Tuesday, July 31st, 2pm at Rock Bay Landing Shelter.