Last week on the blog we met Zoe, a former youth from Covenant Presbyterian in Roanoke who spent her high school years tutoring at the Presbyterian Community Center. This week we meet Emma, another Covenant youth who also spent her time at the PCC, but did significant work with their food distribution program. In her six years working with the program, Emma not only learned about food justice, but also that serving alongside others can serve to bridge the boundaries that divide us.
Liam Matz is an Asheville High School student and, like Martha from one of our previous posts, is a spoken word poet. Recently he wrote and performed a piece with SoulSpeak Asheville entitled, “Abuse,” in which he speaks out against the systemic causes of domestic abuse. Liam has had an interest in spoken-word poetry since he was in 7th grade when he was able to see a few popular poets perform. He said it was then that he realized that, “spoken-word poetry is a way for you to communicate with others in a very powerful, almost spiritual, way that would deeply affect people.” After visiting Asheville’s shelter for women and children, Steadfast House, two years ago, he decided to use this art form to communicate the injustice he saw and inspire people to take action against it. In an interview with YMCo, Liam told us, “My initial thought with this poem was to combine that power [of spoken-word poetry] with the reality that we have here today and to really shock people into action.”
Gavin Inspires Church to Provide a Solution to a Long-Term Discomfort in Downtown Durham
In July 2015, Gavin, a rising 7th grader, attended Asheville Youth Mission with a group from Duke Memorial UMC in Durham, NC. On his way from Durham to Asheville, Gavin came down with food poisoning– a time of serious, but short-lived discomfort that led him to realize the distinction between temporary and long-term discomfort.
Gavin says that his first few days at AYM were miserable. With little sleep and still feeling ill, he struggled to get through the first day at the job sites. He says, “I was miserable, but not for long.” A few days later, Gavin went with his group to Asheville’s Pritchard Park where they “spent time playing games, talking, and eating popsicles with people.” Pritchard Park is frequented by folks living on the streets in Asheville. It was here that Gavin began to realize the difference between his brief discomfort, and the long-term discomfort people on the streets face. Gavin says,