We're honored to announce that Mass Humanities has made a grant of $10,000 to fund our Reading Changes Lives project. About our project, the committee said, “This is an extraordinary proposal … The syllabus is finely crafted and filled with wonderful readings all of which in the hands of a well-prepared staff will address an audience much in need of the sense of the humanities in their lives.”
A heartfelt thank you to the committee and to all who worked to make this possible!
This year Jennifer Gallant (chief financial officer, Polish National Credit Union, Chicopee), Vanessa Martinez-Renuncio (professor, Holyoke Community College), and Adrienne Osborn (programs manager, Western Massachusetts Regional Women's Correctional Center) read the works of women still behind bars to more than140 guests at the Springfield Marriott Hotel. Stella Cabrera, a teen participant in the VFI workshop at Girls Inc. of Holyoke, read two of her own poems, and the Voices Carry performance group read poems and reflections in thanks to Marion VanArsdell, a long-time workshop facilitator and VFI board member.
The Voices Carry performance group
Vanessa Martinez-Renuncio, reading
Two VFI members received special recognition: Christina Hall-Ruest and Moana Rawlins. Christina is finishing a degree at Cambridge College and is working as management information systems coordinator at Friends of the Homeless, and Moana Rawlins, who earned a degree from Smith College, founded a theater group and now is program director at Gandara Residential Services for Women in Holyoke.
Pat Schneider, a founder of Amherst Writers and Artists, whose workshop method VFI uses, also spoke at the event, reminding guests that everyone is a writer, even if they write their words only on the air. One surprise: Springfield city councilor Kateri Walsh offered special commendation to VFI for its work in the community.
VFI IN THE News
VFI's Tara McNamara organized the "Breaking Free" poetry reading in Greenfield--read about it in this Greenfield Recorder story.
An excerpt from Voices Carry's performance at Forbes Library is available for viewing on Youtube, here.
VFI writer Daisy Diaz read a poem to open Hampshire Art Museum's exhibition "Made in America: Unfree Labor in an Age of Mass Incarceration." The exhibit runs through March 10. Check out photos in the February 7 post, to the left.
VFI writer Tara McNamara's poem "Dear Ex-Husband" is featured in the October 29, 2016, issue of the Write Angles Journal. See the poem on our Writing& Prompts page.
WWLP's Ashley Kohl interviews VFI board members about upcoming fundraisers for VFI, April 27, 2016.
From the Heart: VFI Poets interviewed in the Greenfield Recorder, February 12, 2016
Hampshire Gazette Reports on VFI Performance at Lander-Grinspoon Academy, February 7, 2016
Interview with VFI Poets on the Bill Newman Show, February 3, 2016
Loud and Clear: VFI at Holyoke Community College, November 18, 2015
Women Share Stories While in Jail, June 18, 2015