AmeriCorps Week 2013 Blog Series – Movie Night at St. Vincent de Paul

 This is the 4th post in a series of 5 written by various CHC HealthCorps Navigators about their efforts during AmeriCorps Week 2013. Grace Capreol wrote this piece about movie night at St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen in Middletown.

            As AmeriCorps Week 2013 hit its midway point, the Community HealthCorps Navigators of CHC, Inc. were doing anything but slowing down.  Around 3:30pm on Wednesday the 13th of March, and after a successful project day at Shelter Now in Meriden, CT, it was time to begin preparing for an evening movie presentation.  St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen in Middletown would be acting as the host for a movie night, which would be open to all members of the community. A few navigators rolled out the popcorn machine, while others set seats in rows lining the soup kitchen floor, and still others continued to perform outreach on the streets of Middletown.

     Two weeks prior, two of our navigators met with the LEAD group of St. Vincent de Paul.  They are a group of homeless and/or previously homeless community members that frequent the soup kitchen and speak in a variety of venues on the topic of homelessness.  LEAD stands for Leadership, Empowerment, Advocacy, and Development, with each word representing a part of the group’s overall mission.  Lydia Brewster, the organizer and advisor for the group, had offered the LEAD group’s help in our AmeriCorps Week projects.  A few members briefly spoke on some of their experiences and many gave the navigators advice on projects that were planned for the national week of service.  By the end of the meeting, title suggestions for which motion picture to show on movie night included The Pursuit of Happiness, which received a good response from a few members, as well as The Soloist, which received an overwhelmingly positive response from most members of LEAD.

     So, it was decided.  The Community HealthCorps Navigators would screen The Soloist from 6:30-9:00pm on Wednesday, March 13.  And as it neared the 6:00 hour, each of the 14 navigators had contributed to making the night a success.  A projector and screen were set up toward the serving area of the soup kitchen, while the popcorn machine and snack table sat toward back of the “theater”.  Throughout the night, members of the community trickled in to view the movie – the story of a former Julliard student and music protégé (Jamie Foxx) facing mental illness and homelessness who comes in contact with a reporter for the L.A. Times.  The reporter (Robert Downey Jr.) spends the length of the movie working to understand, help, and ultimately befriend this musical genius.  With a story that draws parallels to many homeless individuals in our communities, The Soloist represented part of what the navigators sought to accomplish throughout the week.  Homelessness comes in many forms and varies greatly across a spectrum.  We are seeking to raise awareness about homelessness and its prevalence in our communities, while reducing stigma and widening perspectives. Movie night at St. Vincent de Paul allowed us to do that in yet another avenue, and for that we are very appreciative.

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