by Susan Werner

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]t. Mary’s Center presents “On Our Way Home,” a photo documentary by homeless and formerly homeless elders. These elders used disposable cameras to bring to public awareness conditions that face homeless people.
Taryn Evans, the artist who conceived and funded the project, said, “By providing each artist with a medium to tell his/her own story, I expect and hope that the forgotten issue of Oakland’s homeless senior population will be looked at with renewed hope. I’d like to get people talking about what we can do to improve their lives.”
These artists offer understanding and ideas about what we can do to end a growing epidemic.
The exhibit opens for First Friday, May 2, 2014, from 6 to 9 p.m., at Uptown Body and Fender, 401 26th Street, Oakland, near Telegraph. The exhibit remains open on weekdays until May 16, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
All the photographers involved in this documentary found their way to the Winter Shelter program of St. Mary’s Center. For many, the tragedy of homelessness became an opportunity for some kind of magic to unfold in their lives.
Charles Ford explained, “When I was homeless, I often felt very bad and without hope. I did not see a way out. I needed some help. At St. Mary’s, I began to feel better about myself and about building a more fulfilling, productive life.”
Keith Arivnwine reported that, after squatting in vacant homes for several years, he felt “a desire for change from within. I started making changes in my life. At St. Mary’s, I was around positive people who also wanted to do something different with their lives.”
Pedro del Norte said, “At St. Mary’s Center, I felt a sense of belonging. We shared experiences and collaborated in overcoming adversity.”
A growing number of seniors in Oakland are caught in the housing crisis. The Census Report tells us there are more seniors living in poverty in Oakland than any other urban area in the state.
As the title suggests, this exhibit is also about hope. “On Our Way Home,” celebrates the wisdom of elders as they offer a personal look at life on the street and what we can do to help create change.

“A Way to Survive.” (Oakland man with shopping cart.) Keith Arivnwine photo


“On Our Way Home”

An Exhibit of Photographs by Homeless Elders

May 2 — May 16

Weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Uptown Body and Fender, 401 26th Street, Oakland


For information contact Susan Werner at St. Mary’s Center

Phone: 510-923-9600 x 231