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Young woman in shelter reveals a hidden talent no one saw coming


Solita Hanna, 28, mostly learned her craft by watching YouTube videos.

When social workers at the Transitional Living Community asked the women residents there to share their talents, they weren’t expecting Solita Hanna to stand up and belt out “Nacht und Träume,” a classical Franz Schubert song, in impeccable German.

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​As a client at the Transitional Living Community (TLC), ​Solita Hanna has found comfort in music​ as she waits for permanent housing. ​She is not new to the shelter system and has learned to find quiet and personal time in singing and self study of music. Solita has ​even ​found opportunities to perform for other women at the shelter​, perform at BCS community events, and she sang with​ @gordonchambers Gordon Chambers, who is a Grammy Award winner ​songwriter​ and an active volunteer with BCS. ​ Thanks to the @nytimes New York Times Neediest Cases Fund, Solita recently received a mic​rophone and amplifier to continue her pursuit of singing. BCS is a proud partner of The New York Times Neediest Cases Campaign, which provides direct assistance to struggling New Yorkers, including BCS clients. Read Solita's full article at the LINK IN OUR BIO. You'll also find ways to donate to the Neediest Cases Fund. #neediestcases #onebrooklyncommunity #wearebcs #brooklyn #payitforward

A post shared by Brooklyn Community Services (@wearebcs) on

Twenty-eight-year-old Solita had come to the community through a homeless shelter, just one of many she had passed through over the course of her adult life. “We had no idea this young lady could sing,” Adrienne Terry, the program director for the center, told the New York Times. “She just blew us all away and brought tears to our eyes.”

It was in San Francisco, thanks to generous donation, that Solita had developed her passion for opera under the guidance of an instructor. But other than this brief period of formal education, Solita largely learned her craft through watching YouTube videos. Having suffered from severe mental illness her entire life, Solita has found music to be a constant and reliable source of solace in her unpredictable life.

When she arrived in New York, Solita was fortunately referred to the Transitional Living Community, where she has access not only to food and shelter but also to a counselor and a psychiatrist. “I had never heard of mental health shelters until now,” Hanna says.

Though she says she is far from being a professional opera singer, Solita hopes to continue developing her talents, and for now the shelter encourages her to perform at local events and fundraisers.

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