December 15, 2006

Contact: Kathy Wellbank (215.849.4606 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Women in Mt. Airy Recovery Program Share Stories of Their Lives Through "People & Stories: Gente y Cuentos"

Philadelphia--For the past few months, women at Interim House, a residential substance abuse recovery program in Mt. Airy, have participated in People & Stories: Gente y Cuentos, a reading, discussion and writing program that has brought the women into conversation with the works of Langston Hughes, Chinua Achebe, Linda Hogan and other contemporary short story writers.

At 6:30 p.m. on Monday, December 18, at Interim House, 333 West Upsal Street, the women will read of some of their own stories. News media are invited to attend this special event that illustrates how creative expression aides recovery from addictions.

For weeks the women at Interim House have listened to stories read aloud by Philadelphia author and journalist Anndee Hochman, who also leads a discussion about the text afterwards. The structured dialogue encourages participants to move beyond stereotypes, communicate better across racial and cultural differences, refine critical and analytical thinking skills, and lead to a sense of mastery and accomplishment as challenging issues and texts are examined. The sessions conclude with a 10-minute writing exercise, prompted by a thought or question that relates to the stories' themes. Women are invited to share their work aloud and respond to one another's writing.

Among the group's reading are "Thank You, M'am" by Langston Hughes, "American History" by Judith Ortiz Cofer and "Marriage Is a Private Affair," by Chinua Achebe. "The beauty of these stories is that anyone can enter them-no matter your life experience, reading skill or level of formal education," says Hochman. "Often, women in the group see things in the stories that I've missed, or interpret characters and ideas in a fresh light. We help each other go deeper into the story."

The participants' stories will be compiled into a booklet to be distributed at the Monday night reading. "Through writing, these readers have also become storytellers, with a sense that their own lives are valuable and worth describing," says Hochman.

About People & Stories/Gente y Cuentos

People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos is a grassroots humanities reading and discussion program offered in English or Spanish designed to create an enjoyable and enriching experience with literature for those who are not presently reading it independently. The program's approach encourages readers to perceive the ways their lives have prepared them for the understanding and analysis of complex works of literature. The international program was founded in 1971 in Cambridge, Mass., by Sara Hirschman and expanded to Philadelphia in 1999 with support from the


Pennsylvania Humanities Council. People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos is offered at women's shelters, senior citizen facilities, transitional housing and correctional facilities and other community locations. For more information, visit

About Interim House

Founded in 1971, Interim House, a subsidiary of the Philadelphia Health Management Corporation (PHMC), was the first specialized treatment program for women in Pennsylvania and one of the first in the nation. Interim House provides a continuum of comprehensive services to women addicted to drugs and alcohol that includes three levels of care: Residential Treatment, Intensive Outpatient Treatment, and Outpatient Counseling. Its mission is to decrease substance abuse and promote independence and health lifestyles by providing a comprehensive continuum of services to address clients' physical, emotional, behavioral, familial, social, educational, vocational and spiritual needs. For more information on Interim House, contact Program Director Kathy Wellbank, MSW, LSW, at 215.849.4606 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..