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McKinney Center receives new storytelling grant

By SERINA MARSHALL

Staff Writer

[email protected]

 

The McKinney Center is the recipient of a grant from the Tennessee Disability Coalition for members of the deaf community in Jonesborough.

“We received a $15,000 grant from the Tennessee Disability Coalition. We will be working in partnership with the Communication Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Johnson City to do story collecting with the deaf community, using ASL interpreters,” said Jules Corriere, outreach program director at the McKinney Center. “I will work with some of these community members to work up small monologue performance pieces from their own stories in preparation for a Storytelling Concert for the deaf.”

However, everyone is welcome to attend the Storytelling Concert.

“The concert will, of course, be open to the entire community, and there will be interpreters   providing vocal interpretations of the stories being presented in sign language by the participant storytellers,” Corriere said. “We think it is going to be an exciting, entertaining and empowering event.”

The McKinney Center applied for the grant because, as a storyteller in the region, Corriere realized one group had not been involved, and that is the deaf community.

“When I saw that the Tennessee Disability Coalition was specifically looking to fund a project dealing with storytelling, I knew that the McKinney Center should apply. We house the StoryTown Initiative, which includes that monthly radio shows, plays, the StoryTown Brigade — who go out and collect stories, the Writers Group, and more. Our mission is to be able to present stories from the entire community and region,” Corriere explained.

“The grant asked what groups in our region might not be served right now due to disabilities. We’ve collected stories from Disabled American Veterans, from elders dealing with illnesses and other issues, but in thinking deeply about who might need help in finding a voice, I thought of the people in our community who might not speak with powerful voices, but who have powerful stories to share.”

Once Corriere knew who needed to be involved, she reached out to Andrew Metcalf at the Communication Center.

“I contacted Andrew Metcalf with the Communication Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to see what he thought about the idea, and he was immediately on board,” Corriere said. “He told me some of the best storytellers he knows are from the deaf community. He agreed to be our community partner, and then the McKinney Center applied and received the grant. The news came right during the holiday season, so it feels like a wonderful gift.”

According to Corriere, the McKinney Center has made many connections, but had yet to connect with those who are hearing impaired.

“We’ve made good connections with other groups in making sure their stories are collected and preserved and used in our many storytelling initiatives here in Jonesborough, but because of the language barrier — that being American Sign Language, we have not yet connected with the deaf community,” she said.

“This grant changes all of that by providing funding that will go toward ASL interpreters, transcriptionists, and of course our story collecting team.”

Anyone who would be interested in sharing a story for this project is encouraged to contact the McKinney Center or the Communication Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to set up an interview appointment.

The McKinney Center can be reached by calling (423) 753-0562 or emailing Jules Corriere: [email protected].

To contact the Communication Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, call (423) 434-0447 or email Andrew Metcalf: [email protected].

“We will start collecting stories in January, and the concert will take place in the summer of 2022,” Corriere said.