Since I started working at SSYP about four months ago, I’ve been walking around Lower Roxbury with my camera. I like to take pictures of hidden, or surprising places of beauty--and I’ve found them: a “meadow” of tall-growing chickory and Queen Ann’s lace behind a chain link fence, a grand oak tree in the middle of a public playing field, a humble bit of “stained glass” made up of stick-on translucent plastic on a cellar window, a Pentecost origami dove mobile in the sanctuary of St. Augustine and St. Martin.
Yesterday, I stood in the kitchen, off “The Well” at St. Augustine and St. Martin, warming up my lunch. “The Well” acts as a gathering place for church members, but also serves as a quiet place for SSYP’s young people to meet with volunteers and work on reading, or gather in small groups with teen leaders.
The wall that separated me from the young people is really a kitchen pass-through but it provided a kind of frame to look in on them and see Day 1. Here’s the picture that I saw: two teen counselors, on the brink of adulthood, standing in front of the younger kids, and acting as leaders. I sensed that the teens were a bit nervous, but at the same time, the training they’ve received over the past few months has made them confident. When they asked the younger kids to “DEAR” i.e. “Drop Everything And Read” they were firm, but they also made it sound exciting. The kids were falling over each other to grab a book, which they were excitedly showing to their friends: comparing titles, and saying things like “I’ve read that one! That’s good!” The teens were trying to both encourage the kids, while at the same time exert crowd control: not an easy job!
I ran back to get my camera but then I realized that I don’t need it. Scenes like this are going to be unfolding here all summer and I’ll be here to catch them. I am looking forward to seeing “pictures” of young people “creating the future” for both themselves and others all summer and beyond. I think they will surprise us (and themselves) with what they can do.
By Kate Hornstein, Director of Development and Communications
Kate Hornstein is Director of Development and Communications at St. Stephen's Youth Programs. She enjoys walking around in Boston neighborhoods with her pug, Yodel, taking photos.