THE VOALA STORYWORK MISSION Volunteers of America Greater Los Angeles has made oral history and story a mission as story is a powerful tool in honoring, healing and transforming human life. It hosts ongoing settings for everyday people to tell, share, gather and present their stories in live and multi-media forums that celebrate their living histories. Storywork is process for people to discover and learn how story plays a central role in their shaping their own lives. It is also a rich opportunity for people and communities to liberate and re-connect themselves to the truthful, positive stories that transform, empower and uplift life.
STORYWORK AND OUR CLIENTS The transformation of one’s life often entails engaging the self with some new story about the self and the life she or he will lead. Sometimes, the simple act of having others respectfully listen to and honor one’s story enables that person to feel safe and to hear the self for the first time – often revealing unconscious narratives that have created internal roadblocks to an uplifted life. Other times, such sharing introduces or uncovers new and inspiring pathways to an uplifted life.
Exposure to that new story is often the result of coming in contact with a shift in environments or social settings in which that person’s habituated life is somehow shaken or awakened from the old stories to which one has conditioned the self. This same story shift also applies to families and whole communities. In this way, story has tremendous mentoring powers. If one person relates to the experience and the story another person tells – especially a peer – that very story serves to inspire the listener to imagine and potentially engage the self is a similar journey to uplift ones own life.
“Storywork” helps us to reach our maximum potential. We see story as food for the mind. We all have learned that physical health is built on good nutrition. We know we should watch what we put into our bodies, but hear little about paying attention to the stories we ingest and the resulting indigestion they can cause. As the saying goes, “Story is the shortest distance between people.” Seizing this rich opportunity to uplift individual and community life is our mission and our work.