Hi, I’m Liz. I am an intern at Richmond Story House, completing my BSW (Bachelor’s of Social Work) at VCU. I have been at Richmond Story House since May of this year.
In the jail, I do six-session workshops guiding women to write their own personal narratives. By the end of the six weeks, I collect their stories and compile them into a ‘Zine’: a miniature magazine complete with pictures which we distribute to the participants and their families, as well as the community.
My time here has been very rewarding for a number of reasons: for one, it has gotten me back into writing, which I had taken a long hiatus from. It turns out, it is free therapy. Writing about my life has helped me make connections in my past and has even helped me work through trauma I have experienced.
Another rewarding aspect of my work is the impact it has on participants. Something that seems small can make a huge difference. One time, only one person showed up to my workshop. I was a bit discouraged because I had spent so much time planning the activities. The single participant fully engaged in all the activities, even if some were a bit awkward because they were meant for more people.
At the end of the workshop, she told me how much of a gift it was to have our program come in. She said that it was just what she needed at the time to keep her grounded and help her get on the right path. Another participant once told me that she looks forward to the workshop every week, because it’s one of the only programs they have that is not focused on career development, treatment, or religion.
Richmond Story House offers a variety of impactful programming. My experience is just a small piece of it. But in my short time here, I have witnessed valuable work being done in the name of empowerment and social justice.