Gratitude Through BAYCAT Selfies Part 1

Social media and digital technology have accelerated the speed in which we receive news, good and bad. My mornings often start with a jolt of anxiety as I watch the headlines roll across my phone screen. The barrage of recent bad news – natural disasters, violent tragedies and violations of human rights, makes me grieve for human suffering and lives lost. I fear, “what’s next?”

But instead of scrolling through the bad news, I can also scroll through my photo album of selfies. If you’ve been to BAYCAT, you know that nobody walks out our doors without a Villy selfie. Honestly, it’s not about vanity, it’s about collecting memories. My Dad had severe dementia and Alzheimer’s, and I witnessed the pain of his fading memories. I don’t ever want to forget this feeling of gratitude that I carry not just on Thanksgiving, but every day at BAYCAT.

Here are some of my favorite moments of 2017 captured in selfies:

Our new storytellers give me hope!

Jamahl, age 15 says, “I do this because I know my voice matters.” He blew my mind when he told me that innovation wasn’t just about technology, it was about finding new ways of being together and forming community. His film, Safe Spaces, along with Jovani’s film on Prison Labor were selected for the 2017 RYSE Film Festival Truth Be Told: Justice Through My Eyes.

 

Besides being a fellow Snoopy fan, 12 year old Kaliyah couldn’t believe that she and Chevy won 1st Prize at the same festival with their first animation ever that tackles the issue of gun violence, “The Decision!

 

Our youth also keep me young and teach me how to take time to play as we did this Summer at our annual Fun in the Sun day! We had a scavenger hunt, water balloon toss, face paint, color dust and more. I’m grateful 17 year old filmmaker Terrence FINALLY (and begrudgingly) let me take a selfie with him.

We are changing the face(s) of the creative industry. Literally!

It’s always exhilarating when we receive news of our BAYCAT intern graduates getting their dream jobs! From Aisha Davis, a Reporter at Fusion Media Group to Brasilia Morales a Production Assistant at The Relish, it gives me a sense of hope to know these talented young women of color are not only growing in creative careers, but also acting as role models for our youth. 

It was an extra special surprise when I saw them working on the other side of the camera to film us! Here’s Latajh Weaver and Melissa Perez filming the BAYCAT story for the SF Foundation’s Community Leadership Award in Innovation! Small world joys!

 

Our young people inspire me every single day. It’s taken a village of supporters to create daily doses of hopeful news here at BAYCAT. Stay tuned for Part 2 to see all the faces who make BAYCAT possible.

We couldn’t do this without you.

Love,

Villy

PS. Here’s Part 2!