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Concourse House : A Safe Haven Not a Stigma

Alanna Cordero is an Arts Intern with Concourse House, Home for Women & Their Children and Manhattan College’s Work-Study Program 2021 - 2022. Alanna works on Concourse House’s mother-artist apprenticeship program, weekly arts program workshops, and upcoming Art on the Concourse exhibition opening Thursday Sep 29, 2022. In her writing, Alanna reflects on the creative home Concourse House has become for our mother-artists…

Alanna (far left) alongside Jess, Jamie, B and Amanda installing crochet art. Photo credit: Aaron Soler (2022)

Concourse House is a place for women and children to seek a safe haven when in a difficult stage of their lives. It is more than a shelter, but a home of security, creativity and support for most women. When most people think of shelter there are a lot of misconceptions about the environment and the necessities they provide. Most people think it's just a place for people to eat and sleep when there is nowhere else to go. They take an individualized approach when dealing with the problem of homelessness in NYC. Coming and working for the Concourse House with Arts Curator Ms Jess has opened my eyes to experiences I never thought I would be a part of. The sense of community and group support that runs through the art and housing program has shifted my narrative from individuals trying to get out and make a life of their own, to women helping each other emotionally, physically, and creatively. This support allows for the growth of motivation to start a new life for themselves and their children.

Alanna (second left) alongside Mothers Art Team installing crochet art on the Grand Concourse.
Photo credit: Aaron Soler (2022)

The necessities of life are always seen as physical, a home, food, water, and a job but what has been the last priority until recent years is the mental health factor and how it plays a large role in these women's lives. A creative outlet allows for the flow of positive ideas, motivation for completion, and another way to let out emotions instead of verbally or physically. Being able to work with mother artist-apprentices Dayanara, Amanda and Yafatou has allowed me to create bonds, hear their stories, their aspirations, and their struggles. Listening in times of support, laughing in times of happiness and silent comfort in times of sorrow are all things the women have provided for each other. There is no set way that the art workshops will go, we may have activities planned but the conversation and the speed at which we go is up to the women who join us and help us make it happen. That is the beauty of the program, some days it’s filled with conversation of the change in political climate this country is facing, and others we are all gushing about the children that joined their mothers in the workshop. The program has created a space of freedom for these women and I am forever grateful that I get to experience it with them.

Mother-Artists working together to sew crochet art on the front of Concourse House.
Photo credit: Aaron Soler (2022)

About Alanna

My name is Alanna Mia Cordero, I’m from North Bergen New Jersey, and am currently studying Sociology at Manhattan College. I picked Sociology to understand how someone’s different circumstances can create individual struggles within today’s society. When starting my first year in Manhattan, it quickly became a second home to me. Van Cortlandt park constantly reminds me of my hometown where I grew up and gained a sense of community, it created a want in me to give back to the community. In the future I plan on becoming a sociologist and exploring the how different life paths, circumstances and human interactions influence people's ability to connect and form bonds.The influence of art and community in a place like the Concourse House provides a place to build healthy relationships and create a positive perspective for the women which I hope to one day do myself. What I want to do is help those who are constantly struggling with the necessities of life to be able to express themselves through their interest and hobbies, to allow them to tell their stories, where they came from, or just show who they are through their art.

Mother-artist Amanda leading on a workshop with Design Advocates in the Concourse House garden.
Photo credit: Aaron Soler (2022)

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