SDYS Voices

SDYS Voices: Joi Cole

Joi Cole

Joi Cole, a former homeless youth now staying in our transitional housing and beginning to thrive as Joi Cole Art.

“One day – and this is crazy because it’s how I started my art – I found a random slab of drywall on the street. It was blank. It was about 24 x 24. I was like, ‘Wow, I’m going to bring this back with me.’ There was a pack of Crayola markers and I just did my regular drawings on it because I was always kind of a drawer in my free time or in art class at school. I did a drawing on it and everybody loved it. They were like, ‘Wow, Joi.’

Then one of the staff showed me an email from the McKinney-Vento Awards [National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty] and they were having an award ceremony and they wanted to find a youth to design the award plaques. I was presented the opportunity and it was the best thing ever. They honored me, my award plaque was right there and from that night on, I knew this is exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life.

I started to go to art exhibitions. I started to network. I started to get more opportunities and I’ve been able to blend my activism and my art. It has been great and it’s not only my art but it’s me managing myself.”