A message from Karen Cirulli, Co-founder of Aurora Commons
In a couple of weeks, I will be stepping out of my role as the Director of Community Engagement in order to build and pursue the part of me that is a massage therapist. I have been a massage therapist for 12 years and it is finally time to bring this to the forefront of my vocation. This transition in my life feels right and ripe with possibilities. Although I am taking a significant step back, I will still have a small handful of hours per month with the Commons in a supportive role.
I could not feel more confident in the hands that will take over my position as Director of Community Engagement. Marge Long is an exceptional woman not only with an immense amount of experience (she is over-qualified for the job!) but she embodies the philosophies of Aurora Commons. She is wise, humble and loving with a healthy dose of that east coast fieriness. I am truly excited for you to meet her. This is a huge change and it felt appropriate for me to say some words of reflection as I move on:
Dear Aurora Ave and Aurora Commons Community,
Nearly a decade ago I turned to you because you felt vaguely familiar causing my curiosity to be peaked. There was a draw toward you that I couldn't quite explain except I knew you would change me. Then, inevitably, under the stream of constant headlights, I fell in love with you and together we built a home.
You have shaped me in ways that have challenged ALL that I have known. You have been brutally honest by being yourself while inviting me to be myself. You have accepted me and let me into the sacred corners of your stories, into your motel rooms, your wheeled homes, your tents and under your awnings. You have invited me to your births and I have stood with you weeping at death. You fight hard to live and survive, you are stronger then I will ever be.
You have taught me and will continue to teach me how to hold extremes and let go of absolutes. This community of humans, all of you who enter the Commons, you enter knowing you are a part of something bigger. You are teaching this city how to BE WITH ONE ANOTHER regardless of status. THAT is this miracle, THAT is the magic that continues to draw me back to you. Although I am taking a very significant step back, you will remain my teacher and my heart. You will thrive, you will continue to challenge me and cause us all to wrestle with our own humanity while defying stereotypes and stigma. These words include everyone who participates in this community in any way - I hope you know how powerful you are. You are shaking your fist in the face of dehumanization. By participating you are changing the tide of disempowerment, you are revolutionaries.
I humbly accept the position of Director of Community Engagement at Aurora Commons with great anticipation and gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of this work and team. I refuse to accept the notion of stepping into shoes I could not, should not, nor would attempt to fill. I come into this sacred space bringing all of my humanity, with my few smoothed out edges and mostly my jagged edges in the hopes I will connect to other’s humanity. I have walked in the shoes many of our neighbors are in. I have been in recovery from drug abuse for over twenty-six years; I have been homeless and sold my body to feed my addictions. My hope is in the truth that we are all human, we are all in need of being loved, seen, and known for who we are and not what we do and that every human being is equally valuable. I believe these truths are what will enable me to step into this position with an attitude of acceptance, equality, and love. I am extremely grateful for the work Karen Cirulli has started and look forward to her continued guidance as I lean into all this next season holds. I have felt invited into this space with a warm an invigorating hug from all the leadership and staff and I am overjoyed to be a part of the goodness and the messiness that comes from being human together.