A YOUNG mother gives up her newborn baby boy for adoption only months before her own high school graduation. The mother is 17.

Nearly 50 years later, the mother, Victoria Huggins Peurifoy, tells the story in a letter to a son she saw only once.

In a poem based off a family photograph, which includes a little girl, Carol Richardson McCullough writes of the sister she never met. The toddler died before McCullough was born.

These are samples of the stories and poems collected in two new books, Anthology 2 and Portraits Through Time.

The books, released at a public reading this week, are the product of Writers Room at Drexel University's Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.

Through Writers Room, now in its second year, faculty and students at Drexel's College of Arts and Sciences join neighbors from Mantua and Powelton Village to write, read, and share their work.

"It was intentionally called Writers Room because it's about creating a space and making a space for anyone who wants to write," said Rachel Wenrick, associate teaching professor in Drexel's department of English and philosophy. "It's about people coming to recognize themselves as writers."

The Writers Room started in 2014 after the Dornsife Center opened that July, on Spring Garden Street near 35th in Mantua.

Each month, community members, Drexel students, and faculty gather in workshops to write and discuss their work.

Some community members are experienced writers. Others, said Wenrick, have come hesitantly:

"This year, Ebony [Drummond], who works in security at Dornsife, came to me one day and said, 'Can I show you my notebook?' "

One of the poems inside Drummond's leather-bound notebook was"Queen Me a Color":

"We are all Queens

"Red Queen, Blue Queen, Purple Queen

"Pink. 'What color Queen am I' you ask..."

Wenrick told Drummond the poem "feels like a Double-Dutch rhythm" that girls sing when jumping rope. Drummond confirmed that was what she had in mind. The programs, which also include ones for children, are provided at Dornsife as an "urban extension center," similar to how universities in rural areas have agricultural Extension centers to help farmers.

"The Writers Room perfectly exemplifies our vision with the work we are doing at the Dornsife Center and with Drexel's neighborhood initiatives," said Lucy Kerman, vice provost, Drexel University and Community Partnerships.

Donna Murasko, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said the programs at Dornsife are part of Drexel president John A. Fry's goal of "being the most community-engaged university in the United States."

She said Dornsife programs are not just about the university's going into the community to provide service, but also are about how community members can help enlighten Drexel students.

"It's how can this experience actually enhance the education of our students so they are better prepared for careers?" Murasko said. "Drexel is based on experiential learning and co-ops. This is another way to get that real-life experience."

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