The gentle sounds of electric guitar waft toward the high ceilings of what was once Connecticut’s first Synagogue. Hebrew letters encircle a stained glass window, which casts a soft red glow on the gathering audience. This historic site is now home to Charter Oak Cultural Center, base of operations for Beat of the Street Newspaper and a range of other programs, “doing the work of social justice through the arts.” Tonight, it plays host to a very special graduation.

To get here, students complete at least 96 hours of courses at the Beat of the Street Center for Creative Learning, a school for people experiencing homelessness. On this night, five students now sit proudly waiting to receive their diplomas. One of those students is Joe Brodeur.

Joe is an active community member, and has worked with Journey Home on projects in the past. When I first met him he was helping to organize the 2014 homeless memorial, a yearly service honoring those who lost their lives while experiencing homelessness. Joe took the podium on December 21st, and spoke passionately about the injustice of homelessness and unnecessary loss of life. At the time the 32-year old was sleeping in a tent next to the Founders Bridge in East Hartford. Continue Reading Here