By Jamie Galyas

One summer morning, not long after my high school graduation, I googled local writing workshops. I had been accepted to Emerson College, but it was deferred until January 2017. I knew I needed a place to keep writing and build my confidence, and then I stumbled upon Project Write Now. My future with the nonprofit amounted to something bigger than I could have ever imagined.

I was accepted into PWN’s summer Teen Internship Program as part of a project that involved interviewing a senior citizen and documenting his story. It was such a powerful experience that I asked Jennifer and Lisa if I could continue interning that fall. With open arms, they welcomed me, and I started helping with the after-school program. The students, mostly 7th and 8th graders from Red Bank, surprise me every day with their amazing writing talents and ambitious dreams. All of them, at such young ages, are able to write striking poems and flash fiction pieces. Then Jennifer asked me to be the lead editor for PWN’s new online literary magazine, Bridge Ink, which will launch in January.

At PWN, everything changed for me. I was writing again. But not just articles, poetry too. I remember Jennifer telling me that a journalist needed to do creative writing, as well. I pushed myself to see beautiful things in ordinary places.

In addition to trying different writing styles, I knew I wanted to share my poems. At PWN, there is always excitement whenever someone wants to share what they wrote. I took an Emerging Writers class and that’s where I first shared a poem. I was terrified. But I received nothing but encouraging and constructive critiques. I left class inspired.

Now I feel more comfortable sharing my writing with everyone. We recently visited an art gallery and wrote about our favorite pieces. I was so mesmerized by this one acrylic painting that the words just flowed right onto the paper. It is experiences and opportunities like this that make PWN so special. They are interactive and encourage everyone to try new things.

I look up to Jennifer, Allison, and Lisa. They are amazing women who have guided me in an exciting direction for my writing career. I feel comfortable telling them anything. My crazy fears, weird dreams, a sad past–all of which they always tell me to write about. Without each of them, I would not be half as prepared for college as I am right now. I have used every encouraging word from them to build my self-confidence back up.

Before I leave for college, I will be reading my poetry at PWN’s monthly open mic, “Voices and Verse,” something I would not have been able to do a year ago. I wholeheartedly believe that PWN has been a gift. If I had been accepted into college for the fall semester, I never would have met every beautiful, interesting, and creative person that has come my way during my time as an intern.

But most important, I never would have met the person I have grown into today. A more confident, rounded, and hopeful woman ready to share her words with the world.

Jamie Galyas is an intern with Project Write Now.