Covenant House in Hollywood

Nina and Lashelle created an amazing written word/spoken word workshop for the homeless youth who live at the Covenant House. We went twice a month for 8 months using our own experiences of strength and bravery as examples to open them up… and we brought snacks. The theme was basically; past, present and future, using the suggested opening phrase or framework: On that day… At this moment… I see myself…

The idea behind this concept was to get them to reveal some of the pain and harshness they’d been through as a way of getting it out and proving to themselves and each other, that having been through such harrowing experiences made them stronger and actually brave — something very new to them. They mostly didn’t want anyone to know their stories at first, but slowly we gained their trust and in the end had a blast.

It was a very emotionl at times, writing, then hearing about terrible abuse, abandonement, running away, deaths and losses of infants and loved ones and yet, they found themselves and we found them true warriors. We bonded heavily and in the end had an evening of performance with poetry, rap, story telling and song. It was fantastic.

Nina then became a mentor to one of the young women who lived there, and who has since graduated to the next level of sharing an apartment that the Covenant House rents and the girls pay a portion of. Nina and Azra have a super close relationship to this day.

“She recently told me that in her last foster home at age 16, when she was away… her “family” had thrown out her lifetime of journals that she’d kept with her profound poetry about all of her dark experiences. She left soon after that and had not written at all until her workshop with us at Cov House.”

Here is one of her poems…

I did what you said
And I ran and I ran
Ran from the home that had made me its whore
Ran from the home where I wasn’t even born

Born into this world, he showed me this pain
Pain that a little girl, should never, ever face

You are my friend, my solstice you see
You are the reason I am now free
I did what you said, and here I am now
High above the cliffs
Only to look down

Down at the life that isn’t my own
A name and a face I can’t call my own
A lie hidden behind the scars
Did you know someone could ever get this far?

I did what they said and screamed all around
Yet those screams were of the quietest sounds

I saw it once, that thing you see
The repulsive horror of hatred you deemed
You warned me away, but I couldn’t resist
I couldn’t resist a temptation so fit

Fit for the girl who lived with such pain
Pain that said “addiction is neat”

Not the addiction of drugs and fight
No, this addiction was born out of spite

The pool around you, it grows so warm
Warm like the body you once bore
20 weeks is all it takes
Takes for a woman, to create her babe

You heard it in films, of what to expect
But did you expect to kill your own kin?
Fighting is nice, when it’s for your life
But what of the life, fighting for it’s rite

A punch, a slice, a knife so bright
You knew the choices
One or die

You decided for one,
What more could be done

Do you stutter or stop?
Do you beg for their life?
Do you take a chance, and deem yourself right
Right for the choices you made in this life

Skip ahead to when you were three
Three years into the New World of “peace”

Do you call yourself smart?
Do you call yourself dumb?
Are you brave enough to finally call yourself a Hart?

Do you graduate with Honors
Or do you press pause

Stolen from you all those years passed
When was the last time you truly laughed?

You’ve been running for years
Did you ever think to stop?
Help yourself out
Of this grave you’ve just lost

Why did you do it?
Who made you this way
Did you scream out in pain
When they took your babe?

How could you do it
Why did you stop
Stop for the love of all that’s lost

Do you look in the mirror
See your true self
Or does the abyss
Stare back and caress

Let it be know by all that’s holy
My name is Azura
And I am so very, very, lonely


Nina recently went back to Cov House and planted a vegetable garden with some of the youth living there. It was a great day for all.