Dramatic Reading by Extraordinary Pen-Pals: The 'Firefly Project'

May 16, 2003
News Office: Eve Harris (415) 885-7277

An emotionally-charged exchange of letters between strangers that began with the start of the school year last fall will end in a dramatic reading June 4 in San Rafael.

The correspondents are students and seriously ill people; their letters contain passages that are both bold and eloquent.

"When the doctor who cut a big chunk out of your brain...tells you...to start doing only what you really love to do because you probably have only six months to a year to live — well, let's just say that it puts a whole new spin on being alive," wrote one patient.

"...I can honestly say that, next to my Grandma, you are my most important role model," wrote a high school student.

The words of this year's Firefly Project — an exchange of letters between UCSF Medical Center patients and Marin County high school and middle school students — will be presented by the patients and students in a dramatic reading Wednesday evening, June 4 at 7:30 p.m. at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center in San Rafael. The public is invited to attend this free performance.

Art for Recovery (AFR), a Bay Area non-profit organization that serves patients coping with life-threatening diseases, created the Firefly Project in 1992. Clinical Artist Cindy Perlis, director of AFR, said "Experiences that the students and patients share are very moving, sometimes funny and always deeply human." The students and patients will be able to share in person when they meet for the first time at a healing service May 23 at Congregation Rodef Shalom in San Rafael.

Perlis and local playwright Denize Springer adapted the material. Participating students represent Marin County middle and high schools including Brandeis Hillel Day School, the Branson School, Marin Academy, Marin Catholic High School, Sir Francis Drake High School, Mount Tamalpais High School and Terra Linda High School.

The Firefly Project is supported by the Mount Zion Health Fund, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Lloyd Symington Foundation and the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

Founded in 1988, AFR is a non-profit organization based at the UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion. AFR's mission is to provide art, writing and poetry groups and workshops, as well as offer musical experiences to anyone coping with life-threatening illness. AFR also provides Breast Cancer Quilt workshops to women and their families throughout the Bay Area in collaboration with public agencies such as the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

For more information regarding the Firefly Project or other Art for Recovery projects call (415) 885-7221.

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