I am an alumna of New Urban Arts. I want to tell you a little about my experience and ask you to support New Urban Arts today. I was born and raised in Providence, RI. My parents are both immigrants; one came legally, and the other did not. I feel that I had an average American teenage experience filled with the usual ups and downs one would expect from adolescence. One exception would be my experience at New Urban Arts. I attended their programs nearly every day for four years.
I know that I’m not alone in calling NUA a second home. It was a space where I connected with some of the most important people in my life. In Tamara, I found a maternal figure who had the capacity to ask me how my day was going when my mom, a single parent, was working two full time jobs. In Tyler, I found a paternal figure who was actually present and consistent. Aixa and the artist mentors became the older siblings and cousins that I never got to know. Eventually, even my younger sister started going after school. New Urban Arts was family.
These people shaped me and changed the trajectory of my life. They personified the village that it took to raise me. Sometimes I find myself thinking about what could have happened if I didn’t walk through those doors my freshman year of high school. One of the biggest reasons I did was because I heard it was free.
If there had been a cost associated with it, I would not have gone. I was already aware of the financial burden my existence placed on my parents. The reason I kept coming back was that it stayed free. New Urban Arts didn’t ask for anything back. I didn’t have to do anything; I was welcome to just be. As I reflect, I realize it was and continues to be one of the few times I was treated like I was enough and felt like I belonged. I never had to justify why I should be there. There was always space.
As part of the NUA family, I try to give back when I can. However I’m not always able to contribute monetarily. This is why I’m writing this letter to you. I’d like to ask for your help in keeping NUA free. People, especially young people, don’t often have a space where they don’t need to prove themselves, a space where they are met with unconditional kindness, a space where being equals belonging. Please give so that another young person who might have a similar story to mine can have a free space to be free.
Ashley, NUA Alum ‘05