Hollywood, CA (PRWEB) September 18, 2008
At first glance one could easily imagine "Daughter Denied" author Alretha Thomas being cast in a Hollywood movie as an attractive, bright and well put together attorney or perhaps a stand-in for Michelle Obama. However, the women who resides at A Brighter Future, a YMCA shelter that houses women and children in Hollywood, California, soon learned the true meaning of the adage looks can be deceiving. Never would they have guessed that Thomas, a successful playwright and author, had once been homeless herself. Thomas revealed this information and more as she shared her troubled past wherein she battled anorexia, bulimia and addiction.
"I want the women of A Brighter Future to not give up five minutes before the miracle," she said when asked why she was so forthcoming during a presentation she made at the shelter on September 15, 2008 to more than a dozen women who had recently formed a book club after being donated copies of "Daughter Denied" by gospel singer Anna Moore. You could hear a pen drop as Thomas talked about growing up poor and abused in a San Francisco housing project, the death of her mother at the age of 14 and her drive to overcome obstacles.
Thomas shared with the women how she graduated salutatorian of her high school and received a scholarship to attend USC where she graduated with a degree in Journalism. However, it was her subsequent descent into eating disorders and addiction that drew rapt attention and tears from the women. Following her presentation she was bombarded with questions ranging from "How do you get over the death of a love one?" to "How do you help someone get out of an abusive relationship?"
The women, most in their early to mid-twenties, expressed how they were able to relate to Earnestine, the mother in "Daughter Denied" who's caught in a cycle of drug addiction and co-dependency. One resident shared how she could understand how the fictional character Earnestine found herself stuck repeating the same actions expecting different results. She went on to express how people misconstrue her stoic exterior for strength. "I have been abused all my life and oftentimes I'm hurting inside and then when I express this I'm told I'm a strong black woman and to get over it," she went on to say through a cascade of tears. Another young woman expressed frustration over attracting the same negative relationships in her life in spite of spending time working on herself. "I thought I was healed," she said with a weary smile. "At times I felt helpless," Thomas said as she listened to the concerns of the women of A Brighter Future.
In spite of their frustrations many of the women stated that they were grateful to be a part of A Brighter Future Program and that Thomas' visit and presentation was enlightening and encouraging. "It's good to see and hear from someone who has gone though a lot and has come out successful," said a young woman who participated in the session with her baby in tow. "It let's us know that there's light at the end of the tunnel," she added. A Brighter Future Director of Social Services, Cynthia Arreola, echoed this sentiment as she expressed her gratitude to Thomas for being so open with the women. "Your visit and discussion has really inspired the women of A Brighter Future," she said as Thomas signed copies of "Daughter Denied."
"The women at A Brighter Future and their children deserve all that life has to offer and I am living proof that with help, hope and perseverance, these women can realize their dreams," Thomas added.
Thomas knows a little something about dreams being realized. She says it was shortly after graduating from college that she began to act out as a result of underlying pain and anger that had been simmering since childhood. In 1993, after hitting bottom, Thomas says she joined a 12-step program and never looked back. She returned to church and began writing plays for her church's Liturgical Fine Arts Department. The plays were so well received that her plays were produced outside the church as well.
Prior to her foray into playwriting, Thomas says she was inspired to write "Daughter Denied" a family saga centering around a precocious 7-year-old girl named Tina who's trapped in her mother's world of co-dependency and addiction. However, it took 10 years of putting "Daughter Denied" on the shelf and taking it off the shelf before she ignored her over 100 rejection letters and self published in May of this year.
"Daughter Denied" has received praise from book clubs across America and has inspired Thomas to encourage others who have a dream to write to do so. In June she traveled to her native San Francisco to visit two schools she attended as a child. "I grew up in the Alice Griffith Housing Project also called Double Rock. I visited my former schools Bret Harte Elementary and Portola Junior High (now Martin Luther King Academic Middle School) to show those children that where you live has nothing to do with what you achieve in life. I'm living proof that something good can come from Double Rock," said Thomas.
Thomas returned from San Francisco and held her first "Let's Write a Novel Workshop" for sixth and seventh graders at Orville Wright Middle School in Los Angeles. The students she touched even sent her letters of appreciation.
Thomas concluded her visit at A Brighter Future with hugs, kisses and whispers of encouragement as she passed out her business cards and urged the women to call her at anytime.
"I plan to stay in touch with them all," she said as she wiped tears from her eyes. "I got more out of this than they did," she added as she waved what she said would not be a final goodbye to the women of A Brighter Future.
To make donations to A Brighter Future Program, please contact Cynthia Arreola, at 213-639-7536.