Put Your Whole Self In
El Valor -- Spanish for courage -- is the name of a social services agency in Chicago's #Pilsen neighborhood that serves adults with disabilities. I work with a local non-profit, the "Still Point Theatre Collective," that facilitates drama and music workshops with incarcerated women and adults with developmental disabilities. We call our work with disabled adults the “Imagination Workshop,” and as part of that project, my brother, Gerry, sister-in-law, Rosalie, and I facilitate what El Valor clients call “Music Class” on Thursday afternoons. (As you'll see, the words “music class” don't really capture the nature of this weekly event.) Gerry and Rosalie are professional rock 'n' rollers who volunteer for this gig. I'm a paid Still Point facilitator, and we've been doing this together for years.
Here's how it goes: We arrive at El Valor and unload Gerry's amplifier, speakers and guitar onto a small cart, and wheel through the front doors and into the lobby. We greet the folks there, then roll onto the elevator and ride up to the third floor. On the ride up, I look at the elevator door, and think of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz -- about to open her front door, to pass from black-and-white Kansas into the technicolor world of Oz. Arriving at El Valor is like that -- you never know what you're going to see on the other side of that door.