StoryCorps OutLoud Launches in Chicago!

Storycorps Out Loud event Photography by Alissa Pagels

You may remember earlier this year when we launched our new, exciting initiative–StoryCorps OutLoud. We continued the OutLoud celebration at our StoryBooth location in Chicago!

The night was all about celebrating the LGBTQ communities in the Windy City with 150 guests gathering at Marwen–a beautiful community arts space in the heart of the city. Our host for the evening, La Tony, had the crowd in stitches all night as everyone got into the OutLoud spirit with powerful stories, performances, beats by DJ All The Way Kay, and, of course, great people.

All event photography credit goes to ALISSA PAGELS PHOTOGRAPHY.

Amazing crowd at StoryCorps in Chicago's OutLoud launch party.

Amazing crowd at StoryCorps in Chicago’s OutLoud launch party.

We saw so many familiar faces from past participants, partners and supporters from all over the Chicago area–including Lambda Legal, Trans Oral History Project, and Affinity Community Services, just to name a few–and were happy to welcome some new friends to the party too!

The YEPP team, before their amazing performance at the event.

The YEPP team, before their amazing performance at the event.

From an incredible performance by LGBTQ youth performance group YEPP (Youth Empowerment Performance Project) to a fierce show by the Chicago drag queen Saya Naomi capping off the evening, the event was nothing short of awesome.

Saya Naomi gave a fabulous performance to end the evening for StoryCorps OutLoud in Chicago!

Saya Naomi gave a fabulous performance to end the evening for StoryCorps OutLoud in Chicago!

As our very own Shirley Alfaro (StoryCorps in Chicago’s Regional Manager) put it during the event, “StoryCorps is here for the community.” We cannot wait to hear the many voices of the Chicago LGBTQ communities as they record their stories with us–StoryCorps OutLoud in Chicago has begun!

Huge thanks to all the performers, YEPP, Saya Naomi, La Tony, All The Way Kay, StoryCorps in Chicago staff: Anne Ford, Adriana Cargill, Shirley Alfaro, Alicia Williams, Andre Perez, Gautam Srikishan, and Katie Klocksin; and finally, Andrew Wallace, OutLoud Manager, for making the night such a success!

StoryCorps in Chicago staff with Andrew Wallace, OutLoud Manager, celebrating StoryCorps OutLoud in Chicago!

StoryCorps in Chicago staff with Andrew Wallace, OutLoud Manager, celebrating StoryCorps OutLoud in Chicago!

MORE PHOTOS OF THE NIGHT

All The Way Kay DJ-ing it up 9.19 at StoryCorps OutLoud Launch in Chicago.

All The Way Kay DJ-ing it up for StoryCorps OutLoud Launch in Chicago.

La Tony gets crowd laughing as he hosts the evening's event.

La Tony gets crowd laughing as he hosts the evening’s event.

From Left to right: Saya Naomi (Chicago Drag Queen), Andre Perez (StoryCorps in Chicago Facilitator), Precious Davis (Center on Halstad).

From Left to right: Saya Naomi (Chicago Drag Queen), Andre Perez (StoryCorps in Chicago Facilitator), Precious Davis (Center on Halstad).

Andrew Wallace, StoryCorps' OutLoud Manager.

Andrew Wallace, StoryCorps’ OutLoud Manager.

In The Life Archive with Schomburg and StoryCorps

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Okay, we’re going to just say it. StoryCorps loves libraries–a lot.

Why do we love them so? Well, for many reasons. Namely, we recognize the important role they play in communities across the country. Through our partnerships with IMLS and ALA, libraries nationwide have contributed countless interviews to the StoryCorps Archive because of their unique position in local communities. In return, through our Community Archive program, StoryCorps is committed to providing copies of interviews to various groups, organizations and repositories that can make the interviews accessible to the public.

It was in this spirit that a year ago, we announced a major Community Archive partnership with the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

The Schomburg Center is located in Harlem, New York.

The Schomburg Center is located in Harlem, New York.

The Schomburg houses one of the country’s most significant collections of materials–ranging from books to photographs to manuscripts–related to African-American and African Diasporic experiences. From outreach efforts, during our Griot Initiative, and preceding the rollout of OutLoud, StoryCorps collected a significant number of interviews with LGBTQ people of color. These stories will be placed in the In the Life Archive at the Schomburg, a project “created to aid in the preservation of cultural materials produced by and about SGL [Same Gender Loving]/LGBT black people.” We are proud to work alongside the Schomburg to preserve voices from a population often underrepresented in mainstream dialogue, popular culture and histories of both the African-American and the LGBTQ communities.

Under the leadership of the Steven Fullwood (Assistant Curator of the Schomburg’s Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division), Natiba Guy-Clement (Librarian, Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division), Shawn(ta) Smith (former StoryCorps archive coordinator), and Tamara Thompson (current StoryCorps Archivist), we have transferred 243 interviews to Schomburg with black or African-American participants who identify as LGBTQ. The collection is dedicated to Diana Lachatenere (former curator of the Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division) who was instrumental in securing the library’s support for the collection just prior to her retirement after 33 years of service.

“We see the archive as the beginning of a fruitful relationship with StoryCorps to continue to help broaden public discourse about black LGBTQ life and culture through varied demographics of class, culture, age and educational background, to name a few,” Fullwood says. “Our focus is to develop programming featuring the StoryCorps archive as a centerpiece to inform and inspire future conversations at the center, as well as with StoryCorps.”

Steven Fullwood presenting at a Black Gay Lesbian Archive event, (Photo credit: Donald Agarrat).

Steven Fullwood presenting at a Black Gay Lesbian Archive event, (Photo credit: Donald Agarrat).


The interviews come from all across the country, and describe a broad range of experiences. To get a small glimpse into the collection, read some stories from this amazing partnership:

    Christopher:
     
    Christopher remembers that although he was born a female, he felt like a boy from a young age. He recounts the pain and confusion of going through puberty and finding solace in the organization Youth Pride where he finally found the words to describe how he felt. “I didn’t know the word transgendered until I went to Youth Pride. It was as if I was reborn. I was normal, I could be myself and it wasn’t a sin, I wasn’t something that could be shunned, I was just accepted.”
     
    Monica and Charity:
     

    Monica and Charity discuss their participation in SisterSong, a non-profit advocacy group. Monica recalls how she first became interested in doing social justice work while in college. “When I decided to come out in school officially, I experienced this turn of folks not really treating me the same way. And so I felt like I was exiled from the campus. At that point I said you know what? No one should have to feel that way about being who they are, and I think that’s what started my journey towards social justice work.”

    Tishana:

    Tishana recalls coming out to her two young children. “They already knew that something was going on between me and my ex-husband, and I just sat them down and I was like, ‘I think I want to date women.’ My daughter was like, ‘You mean like lesbians?’ and I was like ‘Yeah.’ And my daughter was like, ‘Are we going to go get ice cream?’ It was no big deal to her. Then my son, he was 5, was like, ‘You don’t like boys anymore? I was like, ‘Boys are cool. You’re a cool kid.’ And he was like, ‘Do I have to leave too? Does that mean boys can’t come in the house anymore?’ And I said, ‘No you’re my baby. I just don’t want to marry any more guys.’ And he was like ‘We can’t get married?’ and I was like ‘No baby, we can’t get married anyway.’ He was fine after that. I guess he thought we were going to get married.’”

 


As we collect more stories through StoryCorps OutLoud, we will continue to contribute interviews to the Schomburg. The collection will soon be open to researchers, and we are aiming to co-host a program with the Schomburg this October for New York Archives Week.

Finding Our Way in Seattle, WA

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StoryCorps has been visiting the Pacific Northwest this summer for a project called “Finding Our Way.” In partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle University, and local homeless services providers, this project will record important conversations surrounding family homelessness.

On our first trip, we visited Catholic Community Services, based in Washington’s Pierce County, and recorded stories with mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters as well as staff and volunteers.

We Are StoryCorps welcomes our guest writer of the week, Michelle Bova. Michelle works in our Custom Services department and has a firsthand view of how this amazing project has taken shape.

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Participants in Tacoma, WA.

Participants in Tacoma, WA.

It’s hard for any of us to take the time to stop and reflect. It’s harder still to find that time if you’re struggling to keep your family safe. When we arrived at the CCS Family Center in Tacoma, Washington, we hoped that families who had been through such struggles would find value in taking time to share their stories with us.

The stories we heard were at times painful, and at others uplifting, but always moving and sincere.

One participant told us about when she left her home–and an abusive relationship–with just $4. Another told us about how his faith helped him through an extended period of living in his car.

We heard from parents who discussed what kept their families strong, even through periods when they couldn’t provide a home for their children. “A participant came with his wife and daughter. As a family, they laughed and cried together,” said Luis Gallo, who facilitated the interviews alongside Anna Berlanga.

Tanya Mettlen and one of the many people who have regained their strength alongside staff at CCS.

Tanya Mettlen of CCS and one of the many people who have regained their strength alongside staff.

Tanya Mettlen, a CCS employee who conducted a number of the interviews with the members of the community they serve, remarked on the pride the women felt in their accomplishments, especially those who have successfully gotten their own apartments for themselves and their families. “They are still going through it, they’re not done,” said Mettlen.

Fully inspired by these inspirational individuals and their stories, we are excited to return to Western Washington in late July and August to record more interviews at YWCA locations in Lynnwood and Seattle.

Michelle

We’re actively recruiting participants who may have directly experienced homelessness with their family, either recently or in the past, or who have connected with homeless families through their work or volunteerism.

Recording Locations and Dates

August 11-14: YWCA Opportunity Place 2024 3rd Avenue Seattle, WA

August 15: YWCA Greenbridge Center 9720 8th Ave. SW Seattle, WA

If you have a story to tell or if you know someone who you would like to interview:

  • To make an appointment directly in Lynnwood or Seattle, WA, contact Denise Miller at 206.461.4464 dmiller@ywcaworks.org or Michelle Bova at 646-723-7020 x12 mbova@storycorps.org.
  • Ask questions or tell us more at findingourway@storycorps.org.
Preparing to tell the story of families in Tacoma, WA.

Preparing to tell the story of families in Tacoma, WA.

StoryCorps OutLoud: Coast-to-Coast

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June marked the kick-off of our new initiative, StoryCorps OutLoud, amplifying the voices of LGBTQ communities across the country.

While June is only the beginning of OutLoud, we still could not have asked for a better way to launch this exciting multi-year initiative. We feel incredibly lucky to have celebrated such a significant beginning with all of YOU. It has been amazing!

So, we thought it would be fitting to share with you some of the great moments of all the OutLoud launch festivities so far–East Coast to West Coast.

Check out all the highlights below from our StoryCorps launch parties in both New York City and San Francisco! And a big thanks to KQED for helping us put on such a great event in San Francisco!

New York City Launch, June 17th (Photos courtesy of Eric Schwortz Photography):

San Francisco Launch, June 25th (Photos courtesy of Alain Mclaughlin):

Like what you’ve seen? We hope you will help us continue to record and preserve the experiences of LGBTQ communities. Support OutLoud today!

#ThisIsOutLoud

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Join us as we kick-off our new initiative StoryCorps OutLoud–amplifying the voices of LGBTQ communities. Using #ThisIsOutLoud, snap a photo that shows us what makes you proud!

#ThisIsOutLoud. We want to know what makes you…YOU. It’s easy to participate. Here’s how:

  • Print out this customizable “This Is___OutLoud” sign OR make your own at home.
  • Snap a photo that expresses who you are! Just fill in the blank: “This Is___OutLoud” and then pose for the camera. Get creative with it, go wild even, but most importantly have some fun!
  • Share your #ThisIsOutLoud photo on FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc. using #ThisIsOutLoud. StoryCorps will be featuring your pictures all month-long for StoryCorps OutLoud!

And that’s it–a pretty simple way to join in a very excellent cause.

Check out how some of our friends and colleagues have started to get in the #ThisIsOutLoud spirit: (Special thanks to photographer Eric Schwortz and our friends at YEPP in Chicago!) blogeric2 blogeric1 From our friends at YEPP in Chicago! blogyepp3 blogeric3 blogyepp2

StoryCorps OutLoud: Chapter 1

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On June 28th, our new initiative, StoryCorps OutLoud, will begin–amplifying the voices of LGBTQ communities across the country. Why OutLoud? Why now? To explain the significance of this new initiative we begin–as you might have guessed–with a story.

45 years ago, police raided a Manhattan gay bar called the Stonewall Inn. It wasn’t uncommon at that time for police to try to shut down gay-friendly establishments, but in this monumental instance, the patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back.

20 years later a young radio producer named Dave Isay (aka the future founder of StoryCorps), set out to collect stories from that time. Armed with a tape recorder, he collected interview upon interview with those who had witnessed the Riots first-hand. The stories would become the very first documentary to cover the riots: Remembering Stonewall.

As Dave puts it, “These conversations turned my world upside down, and gave me a feeling of deep connection to a culture I’d known nothing about.” Making the documentary also further connected him with his own father, the renowned psychiatrist Dr. Richard Isay, who came out to Dave when he was 22 and Richard was 52.

Dr. Richard Isay (L) and Dave Isay (R), 2005.

Dr. Richard Isay (L) and Dave Isay (R), 2005.

Richard Isay died suddenly two years ago–and it was at that moment Dave realized he needed to launch OutLoud. Dave says his father “was very interested in seeing this happen, and I wasn’t able to raise the money.” After his father died, “that was it,” he said. “I was going to find the money if it killed me.”

We need your help! StoryCorps OutLoud is a multi-year initiative dedicated to recording and preserving LGBTQ stories across America. OutLoud will honor the stories of those who lived before the 1969 Stonewall uprisings, celebrate the lives of LGBTQ youth, and amplify the voices of those most often excluded from the historical record. The end result will be a diverse collection of stories that will enrich our nation’s history.

Support OutLoud today!

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StoryCorps OutLoud launching in NYC!

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Everyone loves a good party, are we right?

Get ready to help us launch our brand new initiative–StoryCorps OutLoud!

Join us Tuesday, June 17th in New York City as we celebrate the launch of StoryCorps OutLoud during Pride Month 2014! Party with a purpose with Tony award-winner David Hyde Pierce & JD Samson (Le Tigre and MEN) for this brand new initiative. (Look out West Village, here we come!)

Purchase your tix!

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Here’s everything you need to know about the New York City launch:

  • Who:StoryCorps OutLoud launch event
  • What: Party with a purpose as we launch our brand new initiative, StoryCorps OutLoud, dedicated to recording and preserving the experiences of the LGBTQ communities.
  • When: June 17th from 6:30-9:30 pm.
  • Where: Le Poisson Rouge | 158 Bleecker St, New York, NY, 10012
  • More info: Enjoy complimentary cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Hear select stories from the StoryCorps Archive. Then dance the night away to celebrate this historic initiative!

    What are you waiting for? Purchase tickets for this 21 + event NOW!

    *All sales are final, nonrefundable and nontransferable. Purchase of tickets to this event is not tax deductible. This is a 21 and over event.

    We can’t wait to see you there!

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  • Voices from Topeka—60 Years After Brown V. Board of Education

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    StoryCorps Records with the Kansas Humanities Council for the 60th Anniversary of the landmark Brown V. Topeka KS Board of Education case

    Former Highland Park Principal, Dale Cushionberry, stands with Faciliator Anna Berlanga  and J.B. Bauersfeld, a Highland Park High graduate.

    Former Highland Park Principal, Dale Cushionberry, stands with Faciliator Anna Berlanga and J.B. Bauersfeld, a Highland Park High graduate.

    Special guest post by StoryCorps’ Custom Service Team.

    A few weeks ago, StoryCorps Facilitators, Cristina Kim and Anna Berlanga, found themselves in Topeka, Kansas, working with our partners at The Kansas Humanities Council for the 60th Anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Topeka KS Board of Education desegregation case, whose decision was released on May 17th.

    The trip was part of the other many town-wide celebrations for the occasion–including a High School graduation ceremony with a special Baccalaureate speech delivered by First Lady Michelle Obama who also commemorated the anniversary.

    The Kansas Humanities Council hosted three StoryCorps recording days to capture conversations between generations of Topekans, about their school and life experiences, how those have changed over time, and how Topeka can grow from it all. Cristina and Anna were witness to moments of personal and community growth as they collected these stories. “They had the people that experienced segregation, but also 2014 high school graduates,” Anna told us, “I thought that was impressive. They weren’t just getting the VIPs, but regular people too.”

    StoryCorps Facilitator Christina Kim with participants Madison Wallace and Darren Canady, completing paperwork and chatting before the interview.

    StoryCorps Facilitator Christina Kim with participants Madison Wallace and Darren Canady, completing paperwork and chatting before the interview.

    From Darren Canady and Madison Wallace, who were strangers before coming to StoryCorps, who had a real conversation about race while attending Topeka High School to Katherine Sawyer, who remembered what it was like being a child plaintiff in the Brown v. Topeka KS Board of Education case and segregation in Topeka as she experienced it. The stories collected during StoryCorps 3 day visit were all interlaced with moments of reflection and personal connections, making it an important community event.

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    Participants Maxine Patterson and Melvin Patterson with Anna just after their interview.

    “The stories we collected provide an incredibly important perspective on one of the most important legal cases in the history of the United States,” said Cristina. “However, and perhaps more importantly, the recording experience gave the community the opportunity to reconnect and reflect on the past 60 years since the 1954 decision. There is still a long way to go in the fight for racial justice and equity but preserving historical memories and sharing stories is an important part of that struggle. Recording the stories of Topeka, 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, reinforced my belief that it is only by genuinely listening and talking with people that we can begin to strive and build a more just and kind world.”

    Big thanks to The Kansas Humanities Council and the city of Topeka for the amazing recording trip!

    #MomStrong: A Celebration of the Strong Women in our Lives!

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    It’s officially the week of Mom as the countdown to Mother’s Day (AKA this Sunday, May 11th) begins!

    To celebrate, StoryCorps is sharing stories of the strong women in all of our lives using #momstrong! We hope you will join in the fun and show us why you admire your mom! Just share a photo with us on Facebook & Twitter using the hashtag #momstrong–we can’t wait to see them!

    In the meantime, We Are StoryCorps has a #momstrong story to get you inspired. Enjoy this “never-broadcast” exclusive story from our New York Times best seller, Mom: A Celebration of Mothers From StoryCorps.

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    Roselyn Payne Epps (R), 78, talks with her daughter, Roselyn Elizabeth Epps (L), 47. Both women practice medicine in Washington, D.C.

    Roselyn Payne Epps: I always knew I’d have a career and children. It’s interesting, you hear a lot of people talk about “Which can I have–one or the other?” Why not both? Coming from a family of African-American people the women have traditionally worked–so it has never been a big mystery about “either-or,” just how you balance it.

    I never let my children think anything was more important than they were, but I never let anyone at work think that anything was more important than my job. I never talked about my kids at work…

    Roselyn Elizabeth Epps: …And you didn’t bring work home.

    Roselyn Payne: Nope, I left my work there. You make adjustments. I can recall when you all were starting school and I was working in a clinic. I was the only pediatrician there, so I had to be there every day. If anything happened at home that would keep me from being there, there may have been fifteen, twenty, forty parents bringing their children for examinations who would be disappointed. So I knew I had an obligation to be at work. But I also knew I had an obligation to my children.

    You all were very responsible. For instance, I would tell you, “Tell me in advance when you’re going to have a program. Ask the teacher: ‘When is the recital going to be?’ Don’t tell me on Monday to come to a program on Friday–you’ve been rehearsing and rehearsing and rehearsing for months!” So then I had the opportunity to get someone to substitute for me. It was a partnership between us.

    Roselyn Elizabeth: Well, as far as partnership was concerned, we all had our responsibilities. There were specific chores–there were days everybody was supposed to do dishes. If we were going to entertain, somebody was supposed to sweep, somebody else cleaned the walls, and somebody else pulled the weeds. I was the “A-One Sweeper.” You and Dad were very creative with your names: “Oh, you’re the best wall washer!” “Oh, boy, you really know how to pull weeds!” Only later we realized, Boy, we were bamboozled into our chores! But we were sweeping, and we were so happy.

    Roselyn Payne: That was your name–”the A-One Sweeper.”

    Roselyn Elizabeth: We all knew what our jobs were and what our responsibilities were: you were the parents and we were the kids. It wasn’t a time where people were friends and buddies; that wasn’t our generation at all. You weren’t smothering–I guess the new term is “helicopter parents.” Sometimes you don’t want your parent there every second to experience it and video it. Although you never missed a school play, never missed a parents’ night, never missed anything. For four children!

    Roselyn Payne: I would get there sometimes, and I would be one of two parents. I used to say, “Where are the people? Where are the parents?”

    In the early days, your dad had evening office hours and he’d be late getting home. So we made a decision to sit down as a family and have dinner at six thirty–every night–no matter what. When you went off to college or medical school or wherever you were, you all knew if you called home at six thirty, you could talk to the rest of the family because that was our time. And if your dad had to go back to the hospital at night, didn’t matter. He came home and we had dinner together every night, and we had breakfast together every morning. We had two meals together every day.

    Roselyn Elizabeth: Did your experiences in medicine affect being a mother and vice versa?

    Roselyn Payne: One thing I learned is that all parents want their children to succeed, and all children want to succeed. I used to go to talk to sixth graders, and I’d say, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I never heard a child say, “I want to be a drug dealer.” I never heard a child say, “I want to stand on a corner.” But somewhere in between, something happened.

    I think being a mother helped parents respect me. I would give them advice, maybe about feeding an infant. I was young then–you know, I finished medical school in my early twenties, and I guess I looked younger than that. I would tell them, “You don’t have to think about feeding the baby every moment,” or whatever it was. And they would look at me like, Well, what do you know about that? She doesn’t know what’s going on! And I’d say, “I have four children.” Oh! That gave them new respect: Well, maybe she knows what she’s talking about!

    Looking back, people will say, “Oh, you were a pioneer–there were only five women in your class!” But I didn’t see it. I was following my dream to be a pediatrician and have a family.

    You all have done very well. But I take no credit and I take no blame. People say, Aren’t you proud?” My mother always said, Don’t be proud; just be thankful. So when you were coming along, I said, “I won’t take credit because I’m not going to take blame either!”

    We never encouraged you particularly to go into medicine. When our oldest son was about twelve, he said that he thought he would go to law school. So we said, “Why are you going to go into law?” He said, “Doctors work too hard.” At the time, he had a very good friend named Bruce whose father was a lawyer, and Bruce said he was going to go into medicine. “Ask Bruce why he wants to go into medicine when his father’s a lawyer.” He did, and Bruce said, “Lawyers work too hard.” So I said, “The truth of the matter is, you work hard if you’re successful–no matter what you do. So you have to decide to do something you enjoy, because you’re going to work hard.” So he said, “In that case, I’ll go into medicine.” [laughs]

    Roselyn Elizabeth: Well, of course you’re my one and only mother, and it has evolved towards friendship also. A lot of people laugh and say, “You all act like sisters.”

    Roselyn Payne: True. We are very close, and we’re a lot alike. We’re buddies. We talk every day all day long. Your dad sometimes says, “What are you all laughing about so much?” I love you very much, and I’m very pleased with who you are. As I’ve said, I’m not proud; I’m thankful.

    Recorded in Washington, D.C., on July 10, 2009.

    Enjoy the read? You can find more amazing Mom stories like this in Mom: A Celebration of Mothers From StoryCorps–now available in paperback! Pick yours up today!

    Helping People Grow

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    Stories from 20 Years of Extraordinary Museums & Libraries

    Our partners at the Institute of Museum and Library Services announced the winners for the 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. We Are StoryCorps is featuring guest bloggers from our Custom Services department to talk about their experiences with this amazing institution.

    “Four years, 50 trips across the country, and nearly 900 interviews recorded.” This is how we could catalogue our relationship with The National Medal for Museum and Library Service. But the most important number to note–the number of lives touched by the libraries and museums we have visited during our travels–is countless.

    Raivynn Smith is all smiles as she poses next to her aunt Blossom Smith after completing their StoryCorps interview at Cincinnati Library, a 2013 National Medal Winner.

    Raivynn Smith is all smiles as she poses next to her aunt Blossom Smith after completing their StoryCorps interview at Cincinnati Library, a 2013 National Medal Winner.

    Each year, our partners at the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), awards the annual National Medal to ten museums and libraries that “demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach.” This year, for the 20th anniversary of the National Medal, we had the honor of recording the stories of the people who make these institutions remarkable.

    IMLS captured this special moment of First Lady Michelle Obama standing next to two lucky IMLS StoryCorps participants, Tayquan Pomare-Taylor and Carole Charnow (left to right), from Boston's Children Library. Photo credit IMLS.

    IMLS captured this special moment of First Lady Michelle Obama standing next to two lucky IMLS StoryCorps participants, Tayquan Pomare-Taylor and Carole Charnow (left to right), from Boston’s Children Library. Photo credit IMLS.

    IMLS sent StoryCorps Facilitators high and low to find the unsung heroes of these institutions–the librarians, tutors, artists, security guards, and so many more. We rolled our recording equipment from big city cultural centers–such as the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx– to small town staples–like the Naturita Community Library in Colorado who serves a population fewer than 500 people. So what do these institutions have in common? It is not just that they are amazing at what they do, but that they constantly defy expectations. For example, Virginia’s Park View High School Library hosts live World Music celebrations–breaking away from the traditional “shhh!” of a library by bringing in joyous noise performed by student bands!

    Here are some other story gems that we’ve heard among the gallery walls and library stacks:

    “I’m not a nurse, I’m not a teacher but I’m kind of like combination of that. I’m helping people grow.” –Blossom Smith, Librarian, Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County

    “People like you can never be forgotten, because you helped shape who I am.”–Oscar Mansfield, poet, to his former tutor, Lora Osterloh, Contra Costa County Library

    “I know it feels good to make something, so I want to give girls a space and a reason to do that.”–Jillian Hernandez, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami

    Congratulations to this year’s National Medal Winners! We can’t wait to meet you and hear the unique stories that make your communities special. Thank you for the important work you do every day!

    2011 National Medal Winner, Peter White Public Library sweetly greets StorCorps and our Facilitators with a tasty surprise.

    2011 National Medal Winner, Peter White Public Library sweetly greets StorCorps and our Facilitators with a tasty surprise.