LIVE SHOW: transcript


YVONNE: Alright...

MITCHELL: Get started?

YVONNE: Thanks everybody for coming! Yay, yay!

MITCHELL: Yeah, yeah.

SOUND GUY: Alright, here we go! 

[Theme Music plays]

YVONNE: This is Mouthful, and I am Yvonne Latty. Every week I will be having a complicated conversation with a young person about the things that matter to them, things they have written about and shared on stages across the city. And then we will go out into the community and talk to teens, adults, experts anyone who can broaden the conversation.

MITCHELL: Hi everybody! Thank you so much for coming to our first ever live show of Mouthful!

[applause, cheers]

That's how we start the show every time, so here we are! I'm Mitchell, I'm a producer on the podcast, and normally in most episodes you'll hear me ask a question by the time we get to the interviews, but since we're all here sharing this room together, it made more sense for me to introduce myself now! So thank you again so much for coming, this is really exciting, I think we have a really awesome conversation coming up, and we really appreciate you being here.

YVONNE: Yeah, we're really excited and so pumped to be at the Kitchen Table Gallery in Kensington. It's the Fifth Annual Podcast Festival, and we're super honored to be here. 

So we have a really amazing conversation lined up for you tonight about an important issue here in Philadelphia and nationally: income and housing instability. It sadly is what drives so many of our families into homelessness. 

So like imagination you come home from a long day at work, and you see a notice on your door: eviction. You're getting kicked out of your house and there's little you can do about it. For one in seven renters in Philadelphia, that scenario isn't imaginary—it's reality. Coming home to an eviction notice is how Branden Hall chose to start his monologue "Orange Paper," which he wrote in 2012 when he was a junior at Science Leadership Academy. Let's listen to "Orange Paper," performed by Yannick Haynes.

 

ACTOR: The orange paper stapled on my door shocked me. I looked at the orange paper and read it five times. Then to make sure I read it five more times. We were getting evicted and there was nothing to do about it.

I live with my mom and my brother and sister. We have very little money since I only work part time because of school and my mom is too lazy to work. She says she’ll look for a job soon or the job market is hard but I know the reason. And she knows the reason. My brother and sister know the reason. And my neighbors know the reason. She’s given up. She doesn’t care if she lives or dies she doesn’t care if her kids starve to death. My
mom has lost her mind.

It’s been like this since my dad died but that doesn’t matter because that was then and this is now. We are being evicted and there is nothing I can do. “Felix, Felix!” my sister yells. She doesn’t need to know any of this so I rip the paper off quickly and stuff it in my pocket. I need to keep what’s going on with the house to myself. My little sister has her hair braided with colorful berets clipped on to them. They are not perfect since I did them myself but she doesn’t seem to care .She is only eight so I don’t want her to be sucked into the world that I’m in. The world where all you think about is where the next meal is going to come form or if you’ll have to give your meal to your siblings. I wish my mom had done that for me. No I was basically born into this world that few people know about. I have to go to work for four hours then I bring home dinner, four double cheeseburgers and four fries. My mom doesn’t eat she just stares at the ceiling or her wedding photo? How can she be so docile? Doesn’t she know we are in trouble? She must’ve seen the notice so why isn’t she freaking out like I am? Why isn’t she showing any emotion? Why is she just staring at her wedding photo? I start getting angry so I walk out the door with my fries. The /salt somehow soothes me and keeps me from making any crazy decisions. I also think of my dad when I eat fries since it was him that got me hooked. It reminds me of a time where I didn’t have to worry about food and my dad took care of everything. I remember a time when my parents and I were all happy, but that was then and this is now. I walk back in a take a big breath (breath). My brother is in his room but my sister is in the living room playing with her dolls. I hear glass break and I look over my sister I see my parents wedding photo on the floor. My mom finally does something she yells at my sister.

My anger reappears and I’m out of fries. Nothing is controlling my anger and her yelling was getting louder. How dare she yell at my sister! She hasn’t token of my sister in years now she thinks she can yell at my sister! My fist, are clenching and I feel like I’m going to throw up. I step in between of my mom and sister. I tell my sister to go into her room but she is still in shock from the yelling. My mom is yelling at me now asking who am I to tell my sister what to do. My mom is now targeting me but this is more physical. She’s push and slapping and calling me all kinds of names until I snap. I push her on the couch and tell her to stop; I tell her that I’m the one taking care of this family. “Did you even notice we are being evicted!!! We could be out on the streets in days and it’s your fault!!! Do you even care about us?” but I know the answer. I know what she is going to say but instead of words she hits me. Maybe it was all the stress from the eviction or maybe it was the built up anger but before I knew it I hit her back. She’s shocked and I’m shocked but I’m surprised by what she does next. She leaves, she gets up and leaves.

As the door slams I turn around to see my brother and sister looking at me in fear. Why? I’m the one who has been taking care of them me not my mother. Now that she has left nothing has changed. I am still the one who has to get up at 5:30 am so and iron my siblings' clothes. I am still the one who has to go to work for hours after school. I am still the one paying the bills.

I look at their faces and I know that they have just been brought into the world that I’ve lived in for years. The world of fear.

[Transition music, applause]

YVONNE: So, we're joined on stage by Selena Ortiz. She is amazing, and strong, and beautiful, and powerful. And she came our way through Youth Emergency Services, a non-profit that has provided shelter and support services to children, youth, and families for over 65 years. So thank you so much for joining us Selena.

SELENA: Thank you for letting me be here today.

YVONNE: So what did you think of the monologue?

SELENA: It was definitely moving and emotional, especially since I've been through certain circumstances such as. It was really tough. I was trying not to cry the whole time to be honest with you.

YVONNE: So tell us a little bit about, um, about your journey.

SELENA: Well my journey, it's really been long. I was born into a mixed race family, so that was already a problem. Uh. From there my parents were young when they had me and my sister, so they were naive when it came to how to raise kids. My parents had hand problems, and they had their own problems.

We've been evicted before. And we've been hungry before and starved before and beaten before. And beating is actually how I got into the system... So.

MITCHELL: When you say that they had a hand problem, can you explain what that means? 

SELENA: A hand problem meaning when they're upset or frustrated, that's how they handle their anger. By using their hands or using very mean words. They don't know that it's abuse in the moment, all they know is that they're angry, and that's how they're relieving their stress or anger.

YVONNE: How did you find your way to the Youth Emergency Services?

SELENA: I could no longer stay with my mom. I could no longer put up with the verbal abuse. Abuse isn't only physical, but it can be emotional also. I got sick of being called a nigger. I got sick of being called a bitch. And I got sick of everyone thinking that they could put their hands on me. So.

YVONNE: And so what is life like for you now?

SELENA: Now life is day-to-day kind of surreal. But not the good kind that makes you feel like a bird, more like the kind that makes you feel like you're in a scary movement. Everything black and white. Now I see everyone everyday and we kind of have that same mellow, angry attitude. Even when we're not mad. We're just still upset, because even though we all know there's nothing we can do about it also. 

YVONNE: What about you, what about school?

SELENA: School, I recently graduated from Multicultural Academy Charter School, and I am currently enrolled at Community College of Philadelphia. My majors are Interior Design and Architecture. And my second year there I will be picking up Arabic.

YVONNE: That's awesome.

SELENA: Thank you.

MITCHELL: So when you were put into the system did that complicate going to school? Did you have to switch schools? How did that affect your every day? How old were you?

SELENA: I was seventeen. I was still enrolled at Multicultural Academy Charter School, but it was way farther, like my foster home was way farther from my school than my actual home was. And I missed a week of school because I was trying to transfer into a home school, but my foster mom, when my foster mom realized it was a home school she was like, "I don't want to do this." So then she tried to transfer me to West, and that didn't work. And so then I just stayed going to Multicultural Academy Charter School. And I just had to wake up everyday at 4. I got home everyday at 8ish, and didn't go to sleep until 11. Because at that school they give you a lot of homework.

YVONNE: So what happens now that you're 18?

SELENA: Now that I'm 18 my goal is to find a job. But it's really, really hard because I don't have any of my records. I just got my social security card a couple of days ago, so congratulates to that... but other than that I don't have my birth certificate, so I can't even open up a bank account. And since I've been in YES, my money has been stolen from me three times. First it was $40, then it was $60, then it was $25, so. It's definitely, I need to get bank account, but no one is helping me with my birth certificate. And finding a job is even harder.

YVONNE: Will they let you stay at the shelter being 18?

SELENA: Yes, but it's only a 30 day shelter. So after 30 days you have to either renew your contract or be on your way. And after YES, I don't know where I'm going. Currently, I was only supposed to be there for a week, but it's been four, so. I definitely don't know where I'm going now. And they say they're looking for a foster family for me, but I'm 18. How many parents want their 18 year old kids? [laughs] And so that's how I'm thinking about it. So I know that I may end up going to a group home. The only challenge is now, how am I going to be at a group home with a bigger dysfunctional family and still go to school?

MITCHELL: What is the most challenging part of being in the system, and I mean you've spoken to a lot of the sort of nitty gritty of not having your papers and the sort of wall that places for you to be able to just pursue the things that you want to pursue, but I wonder, is that the most difficult thing that you're really up against in the present moment?

SELENA: The most difficult thing that I'm up against at the moment is temptation. Temptation to give up, temptation to not keep moving forward, because I've kept moving forward all my life. Ever since I was a little girl I kept moving forward. And every time I feel like I'm taking three steps forward, I also feel like I'm taking five steps back. So, right now that's definitely the biggest challenge. I mean, I still need to get those records and my workers, they're not helping me. They don't want me to get independent living. I've never had a drug problem, I've never had an alcohol problem, I've never had a hand problem or a problem in school. I am a total geek whose always stuck to the books. Yet, I can't get my independent living because other 18 year olds strayed from that. Other 18 year olds wanted to bring their boyfriends over and have them sleep over the night, or wanted to pop up with 7 more kids. That's not me, though. That's not my prerogative. And for them to judge me off of others is definitely unfair. And it's just rude in a way. Because haven't I worked hard enough for it? To be able to say: oh I have my own place to live, now I can go to school, now I can come home, I can make my food. I don't have to worry about cooking for five people anymore. I don't have worry about raising two kids that I did not birth from my own womb, so. Temptation to give up is definitely what I'm fighting now. Because every day there's people around me who do drugs, who smoke, who have a way of releasing their anger and stress. But I'm stressing. And all I do is cry. All I do is say, "Selena, you got this. You gotta keep moving forward, you gotta keep strong." But sometimes that doesn't feel like enough. 

YVONNE: So is that is that what has helped you get to the point that you're at now? Because, this is audio, so people can't see you unless they're here in our audience and you know you're so you're just so articulate and smart and thoughtful and it's really easy to connect to you. I mean that says a lot about you as a person. That you've been able to get yourself to this point. That you haven't given up. So what would you say to younger kids that are finding themselves on this road?

SELENA: Most definitely I would tell them to keep pushing, even though it's hard, even though you will cry—it's okay to cry. Do not let peer pressure pull you down. Because as easy as those people say that they're your friends now, as easy as they can also be your haters later. So I would advise to remember that by the end of the day, the only person that has your back is you. You know what you want, you know what your goals are. Make goals. Achieve those goals. Also, make wise goals. Goals aren't supposed to be something that's all the way at the stars. No, you have to go up those stairs first. It's definitely a road, but you just gotta keep going on it.

YVONNE: Wow. We're also really lucky and honored to with us Dr. Nikia Owens. Dr. Owens is the Director of Income and Financial Instability Community Impact at the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. Thank you, Dr. Owens, for joining me and Mitchell here today. We really, really appreciate it.

DR. OWENS: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

YVONNE: So, what were your thoughts when you heard the monologue?

DR. OWENS: Um, it really for me hits close to home because I can completely understand your position—I grew up in foster care—I'm one of five to come through that journey and that path and that road, so I completely understand because all of my brothers and sisters have been homeless. One of them is currently overcoming a homeless situation as we speak now, so um, it is a real reality for young people in terms of some of the adversity that they face. I know for me that growing up in foster care and coming through that particular system. It is very difficult, and I can relate to what Selena is saying. That there is something in you that gets down a little bit but you still have to learn how to pick yourself up—because the one thing that you constantly hear is what are you going to do, where are you going to go. I know that's what I heard coming through the system, you know, at 16 you have to be out by 18, and I, in my mind I was like I'm gonna get as far away from here as possible, so I moved 3,000 miles away from California. Um, and so you just really have to work hard. But I know that my role at United Way from my experience and my journey and the path that my life has taken I find that, and I use every opportunity that I have to make a difference in someone's life that is faced with some of these obstacles, which is financial stability, which then impacts their housing stability, as well as them being able to meet their basic needs. And so you know I've been fortunate to be able to have careers in a lot of different areas from in-home counseling for families impacted by addiction, to being an addictions counselor, to be over at the family violence department, running shelters, transitional housing, I've overseen HUD housing programs. Now I have the opportunity to impact the financial stability of a lot of Philadelphians in our region as well as the workforce, making sure that they get jobs. I think one of the things that Selena mentioned is you know being able to secure employment. In my role I'm fortunate enough to invest really generous donors resources to help individuals like her to secure employment, to get money to go to college. We offer a three to one match on education, so when you save $1000, we match $3000. We help the homeownership. So you save $2000, we help $4000. This past season I implemented a tax program across our region, because those earned income tax credits are really important getting those resources, so that people don't get evicted. We served 33,000 individuals this past year, bringing back $46 million back into their homes, which keeps a lot of people from being evicted and going under. Because the real reality is that particularly in our region, in the Philadelphia region, you know, we know that there's about 1.6 million individuals, but there's about 400,000 individuals living below the poverty line. We are the #1 city, Philadelphia is the #1 city of the top ten largest cities with the highest deep poverty rate. What does that mean? That means that those individuals are living on $2 a day or less. Right? So you know another thing that has to do with that is mass incarceration, a lot of times families are impacted when the generally the boyfriend or the husband goes off to prison, the mother is left to contend and take care of the child and often  faces a lot of housing instability issues in our region. We have about 36,000 individuals coming into our region each year that are previously incarcerated, returning citizens. We need to really work and what I'm working on now is to make sure those individuals get jobs so they can help their families and they can be a resource for their families. So even though there may be young people like Selena that you know that don't live at home they can still financial contribute to their children's lives.

YVONNE: Why is it such a big problem in Philly? Why why is there such a high rate of eviction, like why is this city and I don't want to start cursing, but why? Why are we in this place, why is this happening?

DR. OWENS: One, the housing stock is very low. We have about 1.6 million individuals but we have about 600,000 units and about 400,000 units are not liveable. So that creates a problem right there. And you know, we haven't even gotten to those who are not homeless who are doubled up, tripled up, quadrupled up in the same living facility. So you know a lot of times it is housing stock. But it is underemployment. We talk about unemployment and we're like "oh, we're down to 5.2% in unemployment, but the underemployment is about 12+%. What does that mean? That means that you have individuals and I know during tax time because I get advanced certification so that I can get out there and see what's going on and kind of get a glimpse at it, but you have individuals working 3 jobs. They bring in 3 W-2s that only add up to $10,000 per year. They're underemployed. They don't get the hours, and they're not able to pay for the housing that they're living in. And one thing that you have to remember is that rent rates go up 20% every year. 20% every year. And so one of the things that we try to work with individuals on and fund, we have a very generous donor over at United Way that really contributes pretty significantly to this, when we offer a match for home purchasing, we've also teamed up with Habitat for Humanity—

YVONNE: You know I hate to interrupt, and I think that that's all really great, but I mean they're kids, a lot of kids in the situation that Selena's in. What is being done? How could she be in and you know she's not alone! There's tons of kids in the exact same position that she's in. What can be done to help them?

DR. OWENS: I know that you know that when we met with the housing director, there is a huge push to address youth and the homelessness that is going on with youth, particularly youth that are exiting out of the foster care system. So you know to really respond to the needs of young people, I think that the Office of Supportive Housing we also have to also have to continue to hold them accountable for addressing you know young people's issues because that's obviously still an issue in our city. Is addressing the housing crisis for young people. But I do know that it's really part of the mayor's agenda to you know, address youth homeless in the city. So they're trying to come up with as you mentioned more independent living facilities, more affordable rent housing, those kinds of things. So we'd really like an opportunity to really talk to Selena to try to link her up with resources. Because as she mentioned, it's not right, and it's not fair. And individuals like her should not have to go off to group homes. A group home setting is at a very different stage than what she's at right now, and we need to be answering the call for young people.

YVONNE: Because one of the things that I really love about Mouthful is how it takes these monologues written by kids who are working with Philadelphia Young Playwrights and you know, gives these kids the opportunity to really express themselves, and I'm worried about the kid who wrote this, you know? Like it's one thing to be 30 years old and to be homeless and maybe you have a drug problem or maybe you know you made some mistakes in your life, but I mean that in the monologue it's a kid who's taking care of his siblings by feeding them hamburgers and french fries. While the mother clearly has mental issues and then disappears and is abusive. And that's 2012. And it's 2017, and things haven't changed.

DR. OWENS: Right, and they haven't. Really, and honestly, it's just been the last I will just say it's just been within the last year, in 2016, that they came to the table and they actually saw when they did the point in time count and they saw how many young people were living on the streets here in Philadelphia that they then realized what an epidemic it was and what a problem it was that they started to try to address these challenges. Certainly to what you said, we are nowhere, absolutely nowhere, and I say this all the time at United Way, near where we should be in terms of addressing the housing needs of young people and we are nowhere near where we need to be in addressing employment for young people because there is no reason that somebody like Selena should not be able to find employment in the summer. Whether it's through the summer youth employment program where millions of dollars are funneled through that way, you should at least be able to get a job so that you can keep money in your pocket. You can get your social security card, you can get your birth certificate. There are resources and services out there that the city and that we are paying for, we're paying for this, so if you're not getting what you need and the resources that you need then you need to call your local representative and legislature and let them know that this is a need and that it's not being handled because let me tell you something. We are all taxpayers and we are putting millions and millions of dollars when we are paying these organizations and agencies to answer the challenges you are facing.

SELENA: I understand that there should never be these cases, but there are these cases. And it's not like it's one. It's not just me. It's a lot of people who are just like me, who are way different from me. Like, I know 12 year old girls who are homeless who are prostituting just to make a living. They have nowhere to go. I know 8 year old boys who are homeless who sell drugs just to keep their family going. Their moms are sick. They need that money to pay for their mom's prescription because their mom has strep throat of some sort. Like even though there shouldn't be these cases, there are. Like group homes and shelters and stuff like that, we get sent to them by our workers and such as, but do they actually ever visit us there? No. Do they know what those facilities really look like? No. Do they know what they feed us there? No. Do they know if our beds are clean? No. When's the last time the beds have been checked for bed bugs? Oh, we don't know. That's what really sets the fire up. There shouldn't be these things. But there are these things. And it's not new. This problem has been here for awhile now. Like everyone keeps saying "we're trying to do this, we're trying to do that"—we've been trying to do all these things and Yoda said, "there's no such thing as try—there's do and don't do" and it seems like we haven't been doing anything because nothing has been being done. It's not just African Americans, it's not just Latinos, I've seen Asian people in there, too. And white people. It's not just all minorities, there are some majorities, come on. We all have our scars and we all have our battles, and the kids go through it the worst. Because of mistakes adults make. Not to come at you adults, but come on.

DR. OWENS: Right, and I understand. I lived in a foster care in a foster home as someone's slave for seven years.

SELENA: Are you a foster mother?

DR. OWENS: Pardon?

SELENA: Are you a foster mother?

DR. OWENS: No. But I have my daughter here, right here. No, I'm not a foster mother but I've paid, I make my contribution in a lot of ways that I'm not able to do that currently right now, but at the same time, I've traveled through that road—

YVONNE: And I mean I think it's great I think it's great that you're giving back and I think it's great the kind of work you do considering where you came from. I really do think that that's amazing and special and I applaud you for not running away but for going back in there and trying to fix a system that is really troubled.

DR. OWENS: It is, and it's a really many-headed behemoth that has yet to be tamed by one single service. And you know, I feel the pain. Like I said, I'm one of five. You know? I understand when Selena says they don't come out to visit you, they don't know you know because I've experienced that. And I'll tell you, I'm the last person that wanted to go to school to get an MSW, a Master's in Social Work. I used to say I can't stand social workers. They're incompetent, they're this, they're that. But I felt it was a calling for me to address, you know to address some of the issues and the research and some of the things like that and to be able to speak on those kinds of things. But at the same time, we have to continue to move forward and try to make a difference and the same thing, the charge is with you as well. When you get to a certain point you have to be able to reach back and try to push. Because if nobody speaks up, my sister prostituted herself. So if nobody speaks up from that system and let's them know to say these are the things, or steps into that system to lead that system, someone like yourself, things will not change. Because most of the people that work in their system have never spent one single day in foster care. 

SELENA: Exactly. Everyone wants to talk about how they want to give back to the community, how they want to help. Everyone wants to shed a tear when they see a homeless kid crying for at least a cracker. But I don't see that many foster parents. And the foster parents that I do see all they want are little kids, because teenagers... we're just too much to deal with when it comes to that. They're just assuming everyone's living up to this stereotype of teenagers from when they were a teenager or their friend's teenage daughter. Everyone is different. I feel like everyone should be given a chance. Just like you were talking about the people who were incarcerated who come out of jail and need a job. They deserve that second chance to get that job. We as children weren't given a chance at all because where are we? Like okay, everyone wants those kids to adopt right but those kids won't be kids forever. They will become teenagers. What makes them becoming teenagers and us being teenagers any different? I've always been respectful to adults. But where's my mom? I don't have one. Where's my dad? In Connecticut struggling just as much as I am. Like, this is a problem. And it's not just one problem, it's many, many problems. We cry to our workers, we snap at our workers, we ask for new workers, but workers are under someone called a supervisor, and what the supervisor says, the supervisor goes. So if the supervisor is saying you won't get what you want, then the worker can't do anything about that. And half of us never talk to the supervisor. Half of us don't know the supervisor, so half the time we're mad at the worker when the supervisor is the evil witch. That's all I'm saying. Because I've met my supervisor, and huh, she's as "ki-ki-ki" as they come.

MITCHELL: I, I think that to jump onto what Yvonne said, and here we are, one thing I love about Mouthful and I feel like what I hear from both of you is that you know when the people or are invisible or aren't given a platform to share their story or to put a face to a story and to make it personal—like anything it's so easy to overlook and be like "oh it's a problem and blah blah blah blah blah" for those who aren't in the problem, um, and so I thank both of you for coming and sharing your personal stories. Because I feel like otherwise it doesn't resonate, and that's really, I don't know. There's so much systemic, so many systemic issues that can't be solved by one thing or you know a generous donor is one piece of a puzzle, and I wonder if, Dr. Owens, maybe you can tell us: if someone wants to get involved in foster care, where do you go, where do you start? What are the organizations doing really good work. Who does someone who might be listening go to if they're saying I do want to change this, I do want to do my part? What does that first step look like for someone who might hear this and say: okay enough is enough. I have a room in my house, or whatever.

DR. OWENS: Right, so one of the things that we have that is a resource that can point you in the direction that people can help you, we have just a call in line, which is "211." And we're working really to improve that because 50% of the calls that come in are for housing assistance. So I would encourage individuals who want, if they're just starting out, if you want to get connected to resources, to dial in to 211, that's all, 211, and they'll be able to link you up with resources. And we also follow up to make sure that you were actually connected. So that's something that we've really been working on, you know, so I would just recommend that. But I know there are a lot of organizations out there, just to name a few—of course Project Home is out there on the forefront of really addressing some of the homeless issues in our city. People's Emergency Center is also on the forefront of really putting out information and literature to address the issue of youth homelessness in the city. I know that since Liz Hirsch has taken it over they have made it the office of supportive housing is really you know trying ot make it their priority in addressing youth homelessness. So there are obviously a lot of, there's a new campaign going on that's 100, I'm gonna probably not get this right, but it's 100 youth where there trying to address the needs, they have a campaign to address the needs of youth, but if you want more information of course we have you know we make a big investment with 2-1-1. So, if you need to be connected, please call 2-1-1. All of our agencies are in that database to connect you. We will follow up with you to make sure you get what you need. So please make sure you use that. 

MITCHELL: Thank you.

YVONNE: Thank you for that. And um, I always end each episode of Mouthful with: And that's our show. So, yay!

[Applause]

So this is the end of fabulous Season One of Mouthful, and I would like to introduce to you our fearless leader: Philadelphia Young Playwrights' Executive Director Lisa Nelson-Haynes. I met Lisa about 15 years ago when our now about-to-go-to-college daughters were best friends in pre-school, and I'm telling you: mommy bonds are strong. Lisa has been a champion for the arts in all the years I have known her, and it's only fitting that she close out this first season of Mouthful.

LISA: Thank you, Yvonne. Thank you, Mitchell. Thank you everyone who showed up today. Um, today is a very special day, not just because of Mouthful live, but we have decided wholeheartedly that our girl Selena is part of the PYP family. So I want to thank you so much, Selena, for coming and sharing your truth with us just on the strength of us asking you to. We just asked, and you bought it. And we are so appreciative. And Dr. Nikia Owens. I want to thank you also, because it just took me asking you one time and you jumped on and you've been very supportive. And I want to thank you also. Mouthful has truly been a tremendou experience for us here at Philadelphia Young Playwrights. It was almost a year or so ago, when we first met with Yvonne Latty who said, listen I have an idea. I want to do a podcast, what do you say? I was like, we're on board, let's do it. And it has been such a tremendous journey. I want to thank Yvonne for her vision for the hard work that she put in working and collaborating with Mitchell and I to make this such a wonderful experience. And we have been so excited to be a part of Philly's Fifth Annual Philadelphia Podcast Festival. This Festival would not exist without the kind and generous support of: The Philadelphia Podcasting Society,  Steel Empire, Fireball Printing, Pyroglyphic Studio, the Kitchen Table Gallery, Philly Banner Express, Tea House Inc., Click Save Photography and Design. And I would like to everyone to be sure to look out for podcast Season Two that will be starting very soon.

Thank you very much. Take care.

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