Erie County Poet Laureate takes interest in Emmaus Ministries

A writing conference, 60 boxes of Cracker Jacks, and Emmaus’ Kids Cafe: what do these things have in common? The common denominator: Marisa Moks-Unger, the 2016-2017 Erie County Poet Laureate.

Marisa first explored the Kids Cafe when looking for a possible site to hold the International Women’s Writing Guild’s Regional Flagship City Writing Conference.

Marisa, a former secondary English teacher, was impressed with the store at the Kids Cafe. “I think this sort of reward system for sustained good behavior etches many good experiences for youth,” she said. “Here they can tangibly assist their family in ways that would not be available to them in the regular urban setting. So it is a safe way to provide learning experiences that are organic and originate from a child’s sense of self and his or her desire to help others.”

Inspired, she shared with the children at the Kids Cafe 60 boxes of Cracker Jacks. Used as a “sweet” symbol to help celebrate the 60th birthday of a friend, Marisa bought enough boxes of Cracker Jack’s to commemorate each year of her friend’s life. “I thought that it was a great way to say something sweet while honoring his special day,” she said.

By the way, Marisa chose to host the writing conference at the Kids Cafe in October 2017.

Read this story and more at Emmaus Ministries.