By Jessica LoMonaco
Growing up in New York City as a child, I was supposed to be exposed to a surplus of mentors and people around to guide me. In reality, through, very few people have managed to enter my life and stick around through the ups and downs; I could probably count them on one hand. When I saw that the Museum had started sharing stories about mentors, one lovely lady stood out in my memory, Elin Morgan.
I met Elin when I was 13-years-old through a program called City at Peace. The City at Peace auditions were held the first week of my first year in High School, in September of 2001. I attended New Utrecht High school where I didn’t know a single person but was comforted by the beautiful skyline views and the bustling energy of high school. We all know what happened that month.
By the time winter had descended in New York I had almost forgotten about City at Peace. One night, I received a call from what I thought was a British telemarketer gone terribly wrong. I quickly found out that she was the Manager of City at Peace, and congratulations, I was accepted! And with a warm welcome, I was officially acquainted with Elin.
Starting in 2002, the City at Peace-NY pilot cast was a mish-mash of lost souls who have since managed to mostly find their ways. Aged 13 to 19, we were still kids trying to live in an adult world and find our place where change could and, more importantly, would happen. Our glue, our mother and our mentor was Elin. We pulled through our first year unsure of what would happen; only knowing that we were going to create an off-Broadway show and then perform it to try and create change. Elin made sure that happened. On top of that, she made sure we had a way to get to rehearsal, our parent’s support, money to get back on the subway at night and had escorted any cast member home in the evenings that it was needed, even when the number of cast members neared the 90s. Without ever saying so, she was helping to shape us into trustworthy adults with oodles of integrity. If we were late for rehearsal, she would reprimand us and more than the embarrassment of getting reprimanded by the “mommy” of the cast, I always felt horrible for letting her down. To this day, I have her in mind when I think of the word integrity and keeping my word.
Elin is someone that I could, and still can, rely on. She pushed me to reach for the stars and taught me to believe that what I wanted was achievable with persistence, dependability and good manners. As I got older and left the cast, Elin moved from the “mommy” sphere into the friend sphere. A friend I am proud beyond words to have. Today, although she is no longer with City at Peace, she is continuing to change the lives of the young people around her, most notably her wonderful son, Kavi. Even though it is hard to get together sometimes, I still look forward to my “cupp’a tea” with the incredible Miss Morgan. Elin taught me more than I thought I could know, but most of all, she taught me to be a strong, compassionate and confident woman.