“Don’t give up on people like us. Don’t throw in the towel. Just give us a chance—we might surprise you.”
-Savannah*, a participant in OHC's Let's Talk About It, Oklahoma reading and discussion program at Women's FIRSTEP recovery center.
Participants in the reading and discussion program funded by the Oklahoma Humanities Council as part of the Women’s FIRSTEP Work Training Recovery program struggle with drug and alcohol addictions. Most have also suffered physical and emotional abuse.
This acclaimed program brings a humanities scholar to the FIRSTEP facility to inspire discussions on great literature and the human experience. The program enhances the women’s ability to begin productive working lives and re-join their children and families.
“Each night of the reading group, we’re not just girls in rehab,” says Savannah. “We’re with our friends, talking about a book, just being normal. For some of us, it’s been a long time since we were normal. We talk about the things we find in the books that are funny, the things we find that are sad. . . . It’s like we’re in a different world.”
Savannah continues: “To be able to read and understand, and often read things twice to make sure you get the right understanding -- that requires concentration. As addicts, we really haven’t had that in our lives for some time. Studying for the reading group, it’s you in your bed or outside, just reading and focusing and concentrating. We’re all about changing and becoming new people, fixing ourselves and admitting all that we’ve done wrong. There are so many things in the books we’ve read, like my favorite one, The Color Purple, where you say to yourself, ‘Maybe that works,’ or ‘Maybe that sounds like me, or someone I know,’ and you can take it and adjust and move forward.”
Another participant, Terry*, explains, “When I came here, my whole purpose was to change, and I can’t do that without broadening my horizons. I was drinking myself to death, and I came here for help. The reading group is something totally different than what I ever would have done. In school, reading was never my thing, ever, but I thought, ‘This is a way to change, right here.’ Now I read and write with intelligence. I have words that I never had before.”
Your support for the Oklahoma Humanities Council brings programs like this to audiences around the state and in your community. Your donation inspires a deeper understanding of the human experience and promotes lifelong learning. You can help create stronger communities and families by sustaining OHC programs like Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma that make a difference in our state.
*The names of the program participants have been changed.
About the Oklahoma Humanities Council
The Oklahoma Humanities Council (OHC) strengthens communities by helping Oklahomans learn about the human experience, understand new perspectives, and participate knowledgeably in civic life. The humanities-disciplines such as history, literature, film studies, ethics, and philosophy-offer a deeper understanding of ourselves and others by confronting us with the questions, values, and meanings of the human experience. As the nonprofit, state partner for the National Endowment for the Humanities, OHC brings people together to explore these ideas through programming and community grants that support book groups, exhibits, film festivals, teacher institutes, and more. OHC engages people in their own communities, providing forums for education, critical thinking, and productive civil discourse. Learn more