(Plain Press, May 2016) Two hundred people gathered at the Capitol Theatre on April 26th to view a showing of Our Journey Home, a documentary film which tells the stories of three individuals and their families and how moving into public housing made all the difference in improving their lives.
ReThink: Why Housing Matters is promoting the film as a vehicle to educate the public on the need for and the importance of public housing. The promotional effort is currently on a 26 city, tour. The crowd at the Capitol Theatre was the largest to date on the tour. Many of those invited to attend the Cleveland showing were tenants of the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA).
The film, narrated by musician, song writer, and recording artist Jewel, uses the stories of three featured individuals to show how having a place to call home allowed the three individuals featured to stabilize their lives so they could pursue their dreams.
The inspirational film is available free for viewing on the ReThink: Why Housing Matters website at: www.rethinkhousing.org.
The viewing at the Capitol Theatre also featured a short video prior to the movie that highlighted CMHA’s Police Explorer Program and some of the young people who have been inspired by the program at CMHA to become leaders in their community.
Following the film, six panelists discussed the film and fielded questions from the audience. The panel included CMHA Chief Executive Officer Jeffery Patterson, CMHA Board Commissioner Stephanie Pope, CMHA Police Explorer Kathy Rivera, Cleveland Public Theatre Director of Education Chris Seibert, CMHA Resident Diane Howard and Teens Achieving Greatness Student Johnny Holloway, Jr.
CMHA Commissioner Pope said the movie was “very powerful.” She said she could “relate to each and every family” shown in the movie. Pope said the movie is a reminder of the moral responsibility of leadership, staff and residents “to help each other to adjust to everyday life.”
Lakeview resident Diane Howard talked about the need for more role models in public housing. She also talked about her experience acting and creating a play with children in a Station Hope. She said the children developed a play that helped address how they felt about the death of Tamir Rice.
Chris Seibert talked the Brick City Theatre project that Cleveland Public Theater engages in with CMHA youths. She noted that some alumni of the program are now junior instructors teaching young people in the program.
Kathy Rivera talked about the opportunity for teens and young adults offered by CMHA Police Explorers. She said, “The program can change peoples’ lives. It changed my life.”
After viewing the movie, Johnny Halloway said he would like to look back when he is older and be able to say “I lived in public housing and I didn’t let my environment hold me back.”
Jeffery Patterson, who served as moderator for the panel, offered some thoughts on what success means. He said people often talk about success of people doing superior things such as being a star basketball or football player or musical performer. Patterson said, “Success is all of you here today – providing for your families and putting a roof over their heads. Moving forward. Moving ahead. That is success.”