Press Releases

Press Releases

Elizabeth Strout, author of Olive Kitteridge, to be Guest Speaker at People & Stories 2014 Spring Benefit strout

March 6, 2014 (Princeton, NJ): Elizabeth Strout, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge, and of The Burgess Boys, Abide With Me and Amy and Isabelle will read from her work at the People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos annual spring benefit to be held at the Nassau Club, 6 Mercer Street, Princeton at 7:30 P.M. on Friday, April 11, 2014. Proceeds from the event will go to support People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos, a reading and discussion program offered in English or Spanish for adults and young adults who have had limited opportunities to experience the transformative power of great and enduring literature.

From a young age Elizabeth Strout thought of herself as a writer, keeping notebooks filled with the details of her days in the small towns of Maine and New Hampshire where she lived. An avid reader she spent hours in the local library studying the way American writers, in particular, told their stories. “Reading was essential to me. It connected me to the world.” By the age of sixteen she was sending out stories to magazines.

After graduating from Bates College, she studied Law at Syracuse University, finishing with honors in 1982, the same year her first story, “The Suicide’s Daughter,” was published in New Letters. Her first book, Amy and Isabelle, was shortlisted for the 2000 Orange Prize and nominated for the 2000 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. The novel had taken almost seven years to write, and only her family and close friends knew she was working on it. In 2009 Strout was honored with a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Olive Kitteridge, a collection of connected short stories about a woman and her immediate family and friends on the coast of Maine. Her most recent novel, The Burgess Boys, was published in 2013.

Sheila Kohler, an O’Henry Prize winner twice over, will introduce Ms. Strout at the April 11 event. Ms. Kohler’s short story, “Magic Men,” is included in Best American Short Stories 2013. Penguin will publish her latest novel, Dreaming for Freud, in July 2014.  Ms. Kohler is also a member of the board of People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos.

For reservations, please email or contact Pat Andres at 609-393-3230. Alternatively, contact Michelle McKenna at 609-688-8494. Ticket prices range from $100-$1,500. Sponsors ($250) receive a dinner with the author before the reading, Patrons ($500) include dinner and a signed book, and Benefactors ($1,500) receive dinner for two, two tickets and two signed books.

Since 1972, People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos has been connecting lives to literature through vibrant reading and discussion programs set in diverse settings, including residential treatment facilities, prisons, homeless shelters, adult education programs, libraries, and senior centers.

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Spanish Program Expanding Through New Jersey Council for the Humanities

August 8, 2013 (Trenton, NJ)  – In the coming fall and spring, nine Gente y Cuentos programs will come to life around the state. These literature reading and discussion programs are run by People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos, a non-profit with a forty year history of seminar-style programs that focus on the short story. The programs are funded by a $12,825 grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH).

Gente y Cuentos programs will be held at various sites, with senior citizens, parents, and even teenagers in a college preparation program. The participants meet once a week for the eight-week program, and during each session they read and discuss a different short story. From Gabriel García Márquez to Isabel Allende, participants are introduced to authors that most have never read before.

The strength of the program comes during the discussions that follow the readings, when participants engage in grassroots humanities study by finding common threads between their own lives, their fellow readers, and the story. Said one participant in a recent Gente y Cuentos program, “This program helps broaden the understanding of all humans for just about any participant.” Another person described how the program impacted her life, “[I learned] that literature can open many doors between people who come from different backgrounds.”

Supporting People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos’ strategic goal of increasing its Spanish programs, this grant from NJCH allows the organization to increase Spanish programs 50%, initiate partnerships with five new organizations, and spread its work to new populations.

Patricia Andres, Executive Director of People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos, described the impact of the grant, “The New Jersey Council for the Humanities is helping us fulfill a core part of our mission by serving more Spanish-speaking people in the New Jersey. The program was originally founded in Spanish in 1972 and we are delighted that today we are able to connect with more organizations that serve this population.”
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Citation of Excellence from New Jersey State Council on the Arts

July 29, 2013 (Trenton, NJ)  – People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos is pleased to receive a Citation of Excellence from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. The citation was announced in conjunction with a grant award of $16,733 for general operating needs.

Awards were announced at the Arts Council’s 47th Annual Meeting. Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno expressed that the grants made by the Council on the Arts “will serve as a catalyst for the economic growth and creative vitality of communities statewide. The cultural assets in every region help shape New Jersey as… a desirable place to live, work, do business, and raise a family.”

The Citation of Excellence demonstrates that People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos is one of thirty-four arts organizations or projects in the state that received the highest evaluations from an independent panel. The panelists’ comments on People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos included, “There is a strong focus on high quality literature programming within the social services setting. The quality of artists engaged and the distinctive literary selections reflect programmatic excellence.”

This is the fifth year in a row that the organization has been awarded a Citation of Excellence. “We are pleased and honored to be recognized once again by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts with a generous grant and a Citation of Excellence.” said Georgia Whidden, Board President, commenting on the citation.
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Camden Youth Literature Programs Receive Funding

July 23, 2013 (Trenton, NJ)  – People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos is pleased to announce that it has received a $6,500 grant from the Subaru of America Foundation. These funds will support two new literature programs with youth in Camden County.

With this grant, People & Stories will offer the new program this fall: one at the Camden County Youth Center and one at Camden Youth Library at Rutgers. These programs will provide thirty young adults the opportunity to read and experience literature in a new way. Each program is an eight-week literature reading and discussion experience. Led by a trained discussion leader, a group of fifteen teenagers will read a different short story each week and relate the story to their life experience. By working with college-level stories, these young men and women will gain experience and confidence in their ability to understand complicated literature.

While these two programs are the first People & Stories programs with youth in Camden, the program has been immensely successful in other locations. In the words of one former participant, “I got to read edgy and social stories, making me think more.” Another shared, “The thing that meant the most to me was talking with other teens and hearing their take on things.

Jenny Gubernick, a program coordinator at the Pima County Public Library, Arizona, enthused, “This [People & Stories] was really one of the best library programs I’ve been involved with… I learned so much from the stories and from the teens… I loved it when they ended up liking a story they never would have tried on their own, and when they shared stories they liked with the group, too.”
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“I, Vincent” Reception and Poetry Reading

Vincent van Gogh

January 8, 2013 (Princeton, NJ) — Join People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos and the Princeton University Art Museum for a reception and poetry reading from Robert Fagles’ “I, Vincent.”

Robert Fagles, best known for his translations of classical Greek texts, wrote “I, Vincent” as a way to approach and understand the artist by transforming Vincent van Gogh’s art and personal letters into a open collection of poetry.

In Fagles’ words, “I wanted to see, at any rate, if separate poems might combine to tell a story, even a biography in small. And I wanted to try my hand at a kind of translation I hadn’t done before, not from a foreign language but a group of paintings. And what paintings!—simply to sense the energy of van Gogh would have been enough.”

With wine, cheese, and sweets, the program will open at seven with an introduction by Georgia Whidden, President of People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos, and Caroline Harris, Associate Director for Education at the Princeton University Art Museum.

Then, while van Gogh’s work is projected in the gallery, Princeton University’s Chair of Creative Writing, Susan Wheeler, will read a selection of the poems of “I, Vincent.” While the event is open to all, the gallery only has seating for the first 100 attendees.

Thursday, February 7, 2013
6:30-8:30 PM
Poetry Reading begins at 7 PM
Free and open to the public.

People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos Receives Grant from the National Endowment on the Arts

April 26, 2012 (Trenton, NJ) — National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman announced that People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos is one of 788 not-for-profit national, regional, state, and local organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant. People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos is recommended for a $15,000 grant to conduct four literature reading, discussion, and writing programs with incarcerated audiences, homeless individuals, and Spanish-speaking parents in Trenton. The 788 Art Works grants total $24.81 million and support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts.

Reading Literature: Writing our Stories will reach 75 participants including incarcerated men and women preparing for reentry into their communities at Bo Robinson Education and Training Center; homeless men enrolled in a comprehensive adults education program at the Rescue Mission of Trenton; and, Spanish-speaking parents of children enrolled at the Puerto Rican Community Day Care Center in Trenton. Programs will meet for ten, 120-minute sessions and guest authors will present two sessions, inviting participants to write their own creative pieces. Authors will also lead discussions and read from their published work.

Chairman Landesman said, “The arts should be a part of everyday life. Whether it’s seeing a performance, visiting a gallery, participating in an art class, or simply taking a walk around a neighborhood enhanced by public art, these grants are ensuring that across the nation, the public is able to experience how art works.”

The NEA received 1,624 eligible applications under the Art Works category for this round of funding, requesting more than $78 million in funding. For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, please visit the NEA website at

Patricia Andres, Executive Director of People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos, said, “We are thrilled to be able to bring our reading and writing program to reentry centers, minimum security prisons, and community-based organizations. The opportunity to present such guest authors as C.K. Williams and Paul Muldoon with our audiences helps us bring great literature to those who haven’t experienced it.”


Chang-Rae Lee Speaks at Annual Benefit

Above: Chang-rae Lee, center, with People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos’ Executive Director Pat Andres, left, and Vice President Lynne Fagles, right.

April 13, 2012 — People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos welcomed prize-winning novelist Chang-rae Lee to our annual benefit evening on April 13th.  Lee honored guests with his courageous act of reading from the first twelve pages of a work-in-progress, which will become his next published novel.  In one of the final passages of Lee’s piece, a main character is represented as experiencing life so deeply she feels unbounded and free.  Later, in response to an audience question, “Why do you write?” it was exactly this freedom Chang-rae Lee sees as the key to why he writes.

We are tremendously grateful to our generous supporters who helped us make this night a success!

Annual Event Announced

March, 2012 — Award-winning novelist, Chang-rae Lee, will read from his work at a wine and dessert reception to benefit People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos on April 13 at the Nassau Club in Princeton.  Lee is currently a professor of creative writing at Princeton University, where he has served as program director.  His novels include Native Speaker (1995), A Gesture Life (1999), and  Aloft (2004), all of which have won critical acclaim and several awards, including the PEN/Hemingway and Asian American Literary Awards.  His most recent novel, The Surrendered (2010), won the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Immigrating at age 3 from Korea to the United States, Lee is familiar with the outsider’s perspective.  His characters experience the cultural divide and his themes often explore the problems of identity and assimilation.

The Board of People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos is delighted and grateful to Chang-rae Lee for honoring the organization with his appearance and  for highlighting its mission to bring the power of literature to groups who might not otherwise have access to it..

Tickets for the April 16 dessert reception and reading by Chang-rae Lee at the Nassau Club start at $100 per person; $250 and above includes dinner with the author. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. For more information, or to make a reservation, please contact People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos’ Executive Director, Pat Andres, at (609) 393-3230 or e-mail:

Corporate Sponsors include:

– Anne Skalka and Associates
– Bernuth and Williamson
– Borden Perlman
– Glenmede Trust Company
– Johnson and Johnson Family of Companies
– Princeton Construction Group
– Strong Book Repair
– Taft and Partners


Prestigious New Jersey Council on the Arts Award

January, 2011 (Trenton, NJ) — People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos received a Citation of Excellence from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts for excellence in artistic quality, programming and public service in the arts, achieving among the highest evaluation through the Council’s peer panel grant review process. Cited organizations demonstrate high artistic quality, sound management, financial accountability, significant public benefit and broad accessibility. Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno along with State Arts Council leadership held an awards reception on January 25, 2011 in Trenton to recognize the excellent work of People & Stories / Gente Cuentos.

“We’re honored and delighted by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts’ recognition of our work.” Patricia Andres, Director

This award, the State Arts Council’s most prestigious mark of distinction, is designated based on grant application review and conferred upon People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos for the duration of the grant period for which funding is received.

The New Jersey State Council on the Arts is a division of the NJ Department of State. It receives funding in direct appropriations from the State of New Jersey through a dedicated Hotel/Motel Occupancy fee, as well as grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Since 1966, its volunteer members and professional staff have worked to improve the quality of life in New Jersey by helping the arts to flourish. For more information about the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, visit

Steve Runk, Executive Director, NJ State Council on the Arts;
Ofelia Garcia, Council Member, NJ State Council on the Arts;
Sharon Burton Turner, Chair, NJ State Council on the Arts;
Georgia Whidden, President, People and Stories/ Gente y Cuentos,
Patricia Andres, Executive Director, People and Stories/ Gente y Cuentos;
Kim Guadagno, NJ Lieutenant Governor/Secretary of State;
Germaine B. Trabert, Council Member, NJ State Council on the Arts