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In the Spotlight: Evita Colon seeks to transform community through Speak to My Soul

Posted: Sunday, June 28, 2015 9:07 am

By MARY ELLEN WRIGHT | LNP Staff Writer 

 

 

Marty Heisey/Staff LNP

 

Poet, spoken-word artist and paraeducator Evita Colon relaxes on her grandmother's porch on Pershing Avenue, where she grew up. Colon founded the community organization Speak to My Soul.

Giving birth to her son while in college at Shippensburg University two years ago inspired Evita Colon to provide a legacy of positive change in the community.

The community organization she founded, Speak to My Soul, held its first youth summit in Lancaster May 30, encouraging kids to set high standards for their lives and rise above some of the negative messages and found in popular culture and in some rap music.

“I’m leaving a good influence on my son,” said Colon, 24, a poet and spoken-word artist and a paraeducator at Edward Hand Middle School. “He’s seeing me do positive things and I think that’s what’s needed. “I think I’m leaving a good impact.”

Hometown: Born and raised in Lancaster.

Education: I graduated from J.P. McCaskey High School in 2009 and went on to receive my Bachelor of Arts in sociology, with a minor in ethnic studies, in 2014.

Family: My fiancé, Dominic Jajua, and our son, Dominic Jajua Jr., famously known as DJ, 2.

 

 

 

 

 

What I wanted to be, while growing up: I changed my career goals like I changed my socks; I wanted to be a veterinarian, astronaut, lawyer, actress, doctor, basketball player and finally a nurse. I always loved helping people and I believed nursing was the best way to do it until I realized I get dizzy whenever I see blood.

My first job: When I was 6 or 7 years old. I worked as an extra on the Landisville set of Oprah Winfrey’s movie, “Beloved.” It was a cool experience because I was able to see what happens behind the scenes in movies at such a young age and I was able to meet Oprah and Danny Glover. I still remember that experience vividly and I get excited every time I see myself walk across the screen.

Why I founded Speak to My Soul: After I had my son in 2013, I wrote my first play, “Speak to my Soul: A Montage of Voices,” as a way to leave my mark on my campus. However, I realized after the closing of the second show, “Speak to my Soul” was so inspiring I could use it to leave my mark on the world. I took the name of the play and I turned it into a community group.

The group’s mission: It aims to host events, create productions and incorporate programs in the community that enlighten, empower, encourage and educate using the expressive arts such as spoken word, dance, hip-hop and much more. We raise awareness of pressing issues in the community, such as poverty, injustice, unemployment, education or lack thereof, etc., through powerful performances and presentations.

The best thing about leading the group: I love everything about it: meeting new people, sharing my story, inspiring others and just creating in general.

The most challenging thing about it: There is a lot of hard work involved and it takes away from my family and friends. Also, everything that has to do with Speak to my Soul is funded out of my own pocket and through donations. Putting events together is usually challenging because I’m not quite the millionaire yet.

Upcoming event: We are now working on a January production of “Speak to my Soul: A Montage of Voices,” to be performed at the Ware Center. It uses spoken word, dance and song to voice the stories of black experience in America. The Soul Team is working on getting sponsors and raising money for the production and I am in the process of editing the play. We will have open auditions at the end of the summer.

How I became a poet: So many factors play a part in my poetic growth. My mom (spoken-word artist Stephanie Thomas) brought me along to all of her shows and I used to watch her practice her poems around the house. She bought me Tupac’s “The Rose that Grew from Concrete” poem book and let me have her “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” CD; I loved their poetic flows and their content spoke to me. I began to write my own poems to vent all of my questions and frustrations about the world. It became the best therapy for my anger problem at the time. In college, I discovered the liberation in sharing it with others through spoken word.

A book I’d recommend: One of my favorite books is “The Shack” (by William P. Young). It’s one of those books that renews your perception on what you believe in and how you believe when you are at your lowest point.

A movie I’d recommend: “Do the Right Thing” directed by Spike Lee. Radio Raheem’s story is important today.

Favorite way to spend a day: If I’m not spending time with family and friends, I like to spend my day listening to music, writing and practicing my poems.

Favorite kind of music: I mostly enjoy the relaxation in reggae music, the fun in pop music, the funk in funk and the passion in soul music. Hip-hop is a part of my culture. I listen to it because I am hip-hop.

Something you’ll always find in my refrigerator: Apples and string cheese. It has become a family favorite snack.

One thing I’d change about myself: I don’t give myself enough credit. I am my own worst critic. I would like to celebrate myself more.

The best gift I’ve ever received: The gift of life and being able to be a bearer of life.

A person I really admire: I admire all of the women in my life. I’ve taken something from each and every one of their stories. They talk and I take the lessons that are for me and use them for growth. I also really admire my Pop-Pop, Steve Cole, and fiancé, Dom, I’ve never seen anyone work harder than them while still making themselves available to help others.

Favorite vacation spot: Florida

My parents always told me …: Never give up and stand on faith

The person I’d most like to have dinner with: Lauryn Hill. She has inspired me at her highest and lowest points in her career through her music. I’ve met her three times and I believe I’m a meeting away from a dinner.

Volunteer/church activities: I volunteer at the Arbor Place with the Rock the Mic spoken-word youth group.

Three words that best describe me: Destined for greatness.

For more information about Speak to My Soul, visit speak2mysoul.com.

 

 

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