People experiencing homelessness often have few opportunities to express themselves. Our staff encourages self-expression in supportive and welcoming environments like the Margaret Stewart Lindsay Art Studio and the Carolyn Connors Women’s Center. We welcome guests in these spaces to share their feelings in whatever form they take, and listen to their thoughts and stories. Often, guests choose to write poetry that reflects their wide variety of experiences. Nearly all of our guests have been through some form of trauma. Because of this, safe spaces play an important role in helping our guests form trusting relationships and regain stability.
In the Carolyn Connors Women’s Center staff occasionally lead poetry groups that are open to all guests who identify as women. Women experiencing homelessness are at especially high risk of violence, making safe spaces like our Women’s Center even more essential. Oftentimes women in our women’s center will write poems that center around finding sanctuary and safety wherever they can. Here are a few poems written by anonymous women who are guests at St. Francis House:
Finding My Door
Late night trying to find five minutes to yourself
Walking around with a fifty pound bag
Of your only belongings in the world
Looking for just one second alone…
To just try and think
Where is this place?
Keep looking for your door
Where will my door be tonight?
LIDS on Washington? Under a blanket
That is getting my clothes covered in wool and fibers
Behind boxes from wherever you can find them…
In a train station with strangers or
With everyone around you doing all drugs available
And not available easily
Just breathe and keep finding that door.
Enjoy every second you have behind your door.
It opens to quickly
Stay safe above all even if your door stays open.
An hour of peace.
A door to close.
Don’t Be A Scumbag
Some people can’t handle this life
It hurts to be who they are
Don’t lower yourself
Don’t be a scumbag.
Moses Bassie, a regular at the Art Studio, uses the space to paint and write stream-of-consciousness poems.
Giving guests time and space to express themselves and listening to their experiences shows that they are not alone and that there are people who care. Providing safe spaces where guests feel heard can be an important step in connecting them with services that meet their unique needs, whether that be workforce readiness training, recovery support, or more. Using a person-centered approach, we make every effort to meet guests where they are at and show that they are safe and welcome at St. Francis House.