Two years ago today my life changed. I’m not just overstating, I really mean it. I ended up in Califonia thanks to the help of my best friend, Sorcha and my cousin, Katrina. This was only a few months after my mom’s death and I wasn’t in any form of a right mindset, and making bizarre life choices, and this trip was exactly what I needed.
Many wonderful moments happened over my four days, including a visit to the Walt Disney Animation Building, a visit to the Community set, almost being run over by a golfcart containing John Stamos and Isla Fisher (which, admittedly, would’ve been the hottest way to die ever), spending a day with my missing third, Matt, drawing pictures to entertain a cute bartender who hung up my drawing in the bar (and on her Instagram!), doing insanely complicated ring exercises on the beach with Dex, oh, and meeting one of my heroes, Dan Harmon (creator of Community and Rick & Morty).
But the real life changing moment happened at the end of the night, and it seemed minor at first. Two years ago today, at the taping of the aforementioned Dan Harmon’s Harmontown Podcast, I learned about 826LA, which is a non-profit organization that works with kids and creative writing (this might sound familiar). Upon returning home I was disheartened to learn that, although they have about ten locations around the country, they did not have one in Colorado.
After further searching I found buried in the corner of their website, an affiliates link, with a listing for “Metro Denver Promotion of Letters,” and a short description of volunteers needed. Why is any of this important? Well, Denver Writes (as they thankfully, and less confusingly, changed their name to) is the group I still volunteer with, where I get to spend time writing with kids (sometimes silly, sometimes serious, but always absolutely rewarding). DW helped me find, for the first time in a long time, a place where I could be useful, a place where my particular set of skills made sense, and helped point me in a new direction, helped find a purpose to my life. Leading me down the path to leading my own workshops, and eventually teaching my very own Comic Book Creation Class and upcoming Playwriting Camp.
I’m very thankful to the Jennys, Kate, Laura, and every other connection I’ve made with DW for their support and encouragement through the past two years and all of the opportunities they’ve offered to me. But mostly I’m thankful for all of the kids I’ve worked with, who constantly surprise me with the wonderfully clever, insightful, funny, sad, deep and years beyond their age brilliant writings, stories, poems, characters, plays or whatever else I get the pleasure of watching them create.