OPEN DOORS works to inspire action for safer and more just communities. OPEN DOORS members live in a long-term care facility in New York City. Through creative expression and youth outreach, members raise awareness about the costs and causes of gun violence.

Arts and Activist workshops, leadership training and educational grants support members in their transformational work. As one OPEN DOORS member says, "If I tell my story, maybe someone else doesn't have to go through what I did."


From left: member Vince Pierce, Music Studio Instructor Pavel Bez and member Ramon "Tito" Cruz


At the northern tip of Roosevelt Island, NYC Health + Hospitals / Coler houses 800 economically disadvantaged adults requiring long-term medical care. About 5% of this population are men in their 20s, 30s and 40s whose potentials were unaddressed by programming designed for a more traditional nursing-home population. Many of them had started selling drugs as kids, and wished to use their stories to help young people navigate a different path. In Winter 2015, with a seed grant from the Pollination Project, artist Jennilie Brewster started a writing workshop for this group.  

The workshop invited D. Watkins to visit Coler and speak about his evolution from selling crack to writing books (The Beast Side: Living and Dying While Black in America and The Cook-up). One workshop participant, who hadn’t picked up a pen in the four years since a bullet severed his spinal cord was so inspired by Watkins that he resolved to go to college. To support him and other participants in pursuing their goals, Brewster partnered with the Angelica Patient Assistance Program and Coler’s Therapeutic Recreation Department to create OPEN DOORS.

Since June 2016, OPEN DOORS members have published and performed their poetry and stories, worked toward high-school and college degrees, studied foreign languages, developed technology skills, recorded their own music, taken on leadership roles and traveled to talk with young people about the causes and costs of gun violence. 

Healing Justice Circle with H.O.L.L.A. (How Our Lives Link Altogether!) at NYC Health + Hospitals / Coler on June 30, 2017

Front: H.O.L.L.A. Organizer Cory Greene with OPEN DOORS participant Andres Molina

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