Writing can be remarkable therapy and provide a path for healing. I’ve seen it work over and over again.
Joseph was born in Arkansas but spent most of his youth in the panhandle of Texas in Amarillo. He joined the US Navy on his 17th birthday and was discharged four years later on his 21st. He was assigned to a repair ship in Vietnam where his ship repaired patrol boats in the Saigon area. Although he didn't graduate high school, Joseph got his GED and went on to earn his Associates, Bachelors, and Master degrees. His partner, Dennis McCullough, will join him on the cruise.
After leaving the Navy, Joseph worked in upholstery and ultimately set up his own business which he kept in operation for 25 years. Along the way, however, he was diagnosed with a type of nerve disorder normally associated with Agent Orange during Vietnam. He was given six months to live. Joseph resigned himself to the inevitable and prepared to die. It didn't happen. Instead, he survived, continued his education, and became a volunteer in several areas.
Joseph earned his Master of Fine Arts in writing from Vermont College and uses that talent to help others. He taught creative writing classes on and off at VA hospitals for years, using writing as a form of therapy. Says Joseph: "If you can write it, set it down on paper, you can understand it better." He also worked for the Center for Survivors of Torture where many of his students sought asylum in the United States, fleeing horrendous circumstances in their home countries. The work is often gut-wrenching, but it can make a big difference.
Nine years ago Joseph joined a philanthropic choir called Resounding Harmony. They have about 200 voices and put on events at major venues, such as Carnegie Hall. Each event nets about $35,000 for organizations such as the American Heart Association and the Susan G. Koman Sing for the Cure. The choir performed its first three fall concerts to benefit the North Texas Food Bank, raising enough to provide an estimated 250,000 meals. Last Spring’s concert benefitted the Parkinson Voice Project and that concert raised over $45,000. In his latest project he is on the Board of Directors for the Miss Allen/Fairview/Richardson Scholarship Organizations as the Personal Development Director helping the young ladies with their Personal essays and Platform Statements with which they can win scholarship funding to further their education.