WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Get outside to go inside. That’s the message of a local organization working to connect people across the globe through journaling.
A woman journals on a bench outside Ruth’s place, a homeless shelter for women in Wilkes-Barre. She doesn’t want to share her name, but she shares her story.
“Being homeless, I’ve been out on the streets for a year and a half. It’s really easy to feel alienated,” said the Ruth Place Resident.
Instead of suppressing her emotions, she finds solace in writing about them.
“In my journal entry, I wrote a lot about hope for the future and just some things I want to accomplish and some of my dreams,” stated the Ruth’s Place resident.
On this particular bench, her words will reach others as part of a shared experience called ‘The Bench Project.’
“Whether you’re writing something that’s beautiful and inspiring for the next person, or it’s something that’s heavy that you really need to stop carrying either way, it feels good to leave it at the bench,” explained Beth Romanowski, founder of The Bench Project.
Shavertown resident Beth Romanowski is the person behind the initiative. The Bench Project aims to connect people through the simple act of writing.
Benches are placed in special places and come equipped with a journal, pen, and waterproof bag. Some have unique QR codes for digital access.
“I thought this really would be a great place for the bench because you have women that are in struggle and don’t always have a friend, and somehow it would be a nice thing to be able to share your story and know that it could help the next person that sits,” stated Romanowski.
Those who take part in the bench project say it’s a healing experience of sitting on the bench, sharing your story and reading the stories of someone that sat there before you.
“When you see that somebody else has gone through it and has come out the other side, it can give you that little bit of hope you need to hang on, and keep moving forward and just be in a better place one day, whether that be a home of your own or just a more stable situation in general,” explained Crystal Kotlowski, NEPA director, volunteers of America Pennsylvania.
This woman says, sitting here, writing, expressing herself brightens her day and gives her a better outlook on life.
“It gives me a sense of purpose which I’m like dying for so I’m really grateful for that,” said Ruth’s Place resident.
The bench project has partnered with the city of Wilkes-Barre to put benches in every park. You can head over to their Facebook to learn more.