Leo Schaff is an actor, a singer, a performing songwriter, a Shakespearean – and an inspiring teaching-artist. Some of those he teaches are among the least fortunate among us: the mentally ill homeless of New York City.
Leo works with a long-standing homeless outreach program on the Upper West Side that’s focused particularly on that underserved and much-misunderstood part of the homeless population known as the mentally ill.
In addition to providing transitional housing, medication and social services, the program places great emphasis on creating a safe community environment, with member involvement based on a “clubhouse” model. This includes workshops in job training, computers, art, theater, and storytelling and songwriting.
As Christmas approached, Leo gathered with the members and together they wrote and performed “A Christmas Waltz,” which we are delighted to share with you this holiday season.