A Place Called Home combined the poignant real-life stories of homeless men and women in Rockford with the writing of local attorney and playwright Don Moore, direction of Tony Vezner, New American Theater (NAT) and actors from NAT, all of whom donated their services.
I asked Don how he became involved, and he said this project was the brain-child of former Carpenters Place Board member Joe Ubben.
When Joe moved to Indiana and was unable to continue the project, the decision was made to find someone locally who would be willing to take it on, Moore said. After listening to the tapes from the transcripts of the guests interviews, I realized what a daunting task it was, but said, lets do it.
Moore took the project to heart, and did extensive interviewing to make the voices real.
I had the eye-opening experience of going to the homeless camps and doing additional interviews, Moore said. I talked to between 30 and 40 people.
Moore was most impacted by the sheer magnitude of homeless in Rockford, approximately 3,000.
Rockford has a fairly strong safety net to give people a place to sleep and keep them fed, so people come into Rockford from outlying areas for these services, Moore said.
Carpenters Place works with guests on 14 life areas. Case workers work with them to make sure they avail themselves of the services and follow through.
Some of the guests engage in an arts program, providing a great sense of accomplishment; there is a beginning, a middle and an end. Guests made beautiful mosaic stepping stones to show their gratitude to the committee, which made this event possible.
Proceeds from the performances June 16-17 helped provide the tools for rebuilding the lives of the homeless through services provided at Carpenters Place.
Anne E. OKeefe is executive director of the Rockford Area Arts Council.
From the June 28-July 4, 2006, issue