The Firefly Project: Dramatic Reading by Extraordinary Pen-Pals

April 19, 2004
News Office: Eve Harris (415) 885-7277

A dramatic reading of letters between critically ill adults and healthy teenagers will be performed on Wednesday, May 19, in San Rafael.

The words of this year's Firefly Project will be presented by the patients and teens at 7 p.m. in Hoytt Theater at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center in San Rafael at 200 N. San Pedro Rd. The public is invited.

The adult correspondents, who were all patients at UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion, were seriously ill. Two passed away this year, but the teens continued correspondence with the families of their pen pals.

All the teen participants are middle and high school students. Eighth-grade student Jennifer wrote to Kate's family: "...the great feeling of emptiness and loss when I think about Kate, yet at the same time gratitude for the letters she wrote to me. I never had a chance to meet Kate in person, but from her letters I got the impression of what a wonderful person she was."

Kate's family and the rest of the participants and their families will meet for the first time at a Healing Service on May 14 at San Rafael Congregation Rodef Sholom at 170 N. San Pedro Rd. as well as the following week at the performance.

UCSF clinical artist Cindy Perlis created the Firefly Project in 1992. She is founder and director of Art for Recovery (AFR), a Bay Area non-profit organization that serves patients coping with life-threatening diseases. "Experiences that the students and patients share are very moving, sometimes funny and always deeply human," Perlis said.

Perlis, who lives in San Anselmo, and Mill Valley playwright Denize Springer adapted the material for presentation on stage. The 35 students in the project are from Marin County middle and high schools including Brandeis Hillel Day School, the Branson School, Marin Academy, Sir Francis Drake High School, and from San Francisco schools including Urban and French-American.

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 a life-threatening illness.

A suggested tax deductible donation of $10 will be requested at the May 19 performance. The Firefly Project is funded by the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Lloyd Symington Foundation and The Auxiliary, UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion.

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

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