Do the Write Thing

"This program meets the needs of girls who usually fall between the cracks."

---Talaya Freeman, served as program coordinator for nine years

For many people, doing one job is enough, but Gloria White-Hammond felt the call to many other jobs besides nursing. In 1997, she joined her husband Ray Hammond as the co-pastor of Bethel AME church in Boston. Even before White-Hammond became a pastor, she was very involved in her church. While working at the health clinic , she met many parents who needed help with their children. In 1994, she immediately started a youth program at her church called Do the Write Thing.

The program, which was for high-risk girls ages 8-17, started as a weekly workshop and met for a total of 3 hours each week. The meetings took place on various evenings spent in the basement of the church. White-Hammond lead discussions. She would challenge the girls to be more accountable for their lives. "She would say to us," said Niquicia Wilson, one of the girls who participated in Do the Write Thing, "Are you skipping school? Why do you do things like that?'" Gloria White-Hammond wanted the girls to learn responsibility at a young age so that they would become responsible adults.

Gloria set weekly writing assignments for the girls in her program, but she didn't want it to be all work and no play, Gloria also took the girls on trips to plays in Boston. Said Wilson "She exposed us to culture we'd never seen before. She opened our minds."

Though Pastor Gloria is no longer as involved in Do the Write Thing, the program continues to thrive as part of the Generation Excel, a Bethel based youth program that works with inner city children to move their lives in a positive direction. Do the Write Thing has a collaboration with Our Place Theater, which works with girls in the program to help them bond across barriers of race, ethnicity, class, and neighborhood by using theater as an outlet.

Do the Write Thing has become a very strong and effective program, serving 200 girls annually. 100% of the participants graduate from high-school or complete their GED, and 34% go on to college. The Site Director of the Roxbury Day Reporting Center (a transitional facility for youth that are on probation) has said that "Generation Excel/DTWT is the only agency that has stayed with us over the years to help our girls. The Roxbury Day Reporting Center staff is particularly impressed by their expertise, strong commitment, and consistency." Like many other positive programs, it started with Gloria White-Hammond, a woman who sees needs, and fills them.