Farewell from volunteer facilitator Pam Clark to participants of Grit Uplifted (September 1, 2012)

It is with a heavy heart and a whole lot of gratitude that we said goodbye and a huge thank you to Pam Clark, volunteer co-facilitator of the Grit Uplifted Creative Writing Group at the Central Library, this past Saturday, September 1, 2012.
Your wisdom and inspiration will continue to be carried with us in our notebooks and in our hearts, and we wish you all the best in your future endeavours! (And many thanks for the kind words and yummy cheesecake–a great ending to a great 14-week term.)

Below is a farewell message from Pam, which she shared with the participants in our week-14 finale session last Saturday:


In June 2011, I entered the Central Library boardroom for the first time, to begin my first session as Kelly’s volunteer co-facilitator for a creative writing group called “Grit Uplifted”. I admit that I was a bit nervous. I had never worked with people who experienced homelessness before, but I had seen plenty of them.

In Montreal, my city of birth, the homeless are everywhere. They sit on the sidewalks downtown, they panhandle in the subway, and they bring their dogs along and passers-by give more out of pity for the animals. There are shelters, but never enough.

As I looked around the boardroom, and as the weeks and lessons went on, my education began. People–writers–came and went; some stayed for a long time. Some seemed to be regulars, but even they would disappear for weeks at a time, and I would wonder if they were alright. Some were so devastated by life that they were withdrawn and reluctant to speak, but they came to listen to their peers.

I listened to Kelly’s gentle voice go over the material each week, and I watched as “the writer” came over each head that bowed, lips that pursed, eyes that stared into the distance, thinking or remembering. I remember how I listened to the rants and the poems, the humour and the pain. I realized that but for the grace of God, any one of us could be in the other’s shoes. Most of all, I realized that writing can be a release for anyone. The thing in us that makes us write binds us together.

You have taught me about perseverance and tenacity. You have shown me that your spirits burn brightly in spite of circumstances. Your words speak volumes, and I humbly encourage you all to keep putting them down on paper to share with others.

Thank you for sharing your words with me.

(Pam Clark – September 1, 2012)

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