Thursday, May 22, 2008


This week for some reason I have heard so much to bear from the inmates and the families. On a rare week I might have more than one visit to a prison and this was one such week. I went to Charles Bass which I go to every Monday and then last night I went to TN Prison for Women. At Charles Bass I had a pretty positive response from the inmates, but one man wanted to talk to me about his situation. I was open to learning more about his children and how we can serve them but what I heard next was scary. I guess more so the dark, distant look in his eyes sealed the deal. He wanted to refer over his niece and nephew and said he didn’t know his sisters number. I told him, “You could give me your mom/their grandmother’s number and I could get their number from her.” I often do this because some of the inmates have lost contact with their children but the grandparents seem to always be able to reach the grandchildren. So the inmate told me, “I don’t know if that would be the best idea, we are not on the best terms. I shot my dad because he was beating my mom.” I feel like there was more to it then that because he also told me that he was spending hundreds of dollars a week on drugs. He also said he has an eight year old child and this inmate was my age.

Then after following up with one of the other referrals from this week I talked to woman about enrolling her children. The children’s incarcerated stepfather had referred the children over. She told me about her struggles of being disabled and how her brother was killed five years ago and how her mother’s house just burned down. Luckily the children can be exposed to the model of one-to-one mentoring and strive for big things. Poverty weaves its way into every aspect of life. Violence, poverty, health concerns, education are always at the forefront of survival. She was already worrying about her son who had skipped school a few times.
Yesterday at the TN Prison for Women a woman admitted to the group that she is in there for selling drugs and now her own son is dabbling. She was horrified but in a way knew that she had almost facilitated this to happen, that it was the natural course. There was a woman who was also locked up who wanted to refer over her great grandchildren. She was in a wheelchair and I can’t even imagine what she did. One parent spoke of the fact that her children are already involved in the program and all the wonderful activities they did.

I want to change gears a little bit and focus more on the most incredible part of the whole experience. The children we serve!!! A few weeks ago we took children who are matched with a mentor at a few of the local Boys and Girls Club to a day camp and they canoed, did tree climbing and rode horses. Basically I was able to be a kid for the day. It made me want to make my living as a canoe instructor or something to that effect. The children were in heaven. They were so PROUD to see what they could accomplish. To see a child learn, to see a child experience, to see a child grow is an incredible experience. Many of the kids have not been exposed to life outside the city so it was pretty special to see wild turkeys when we drove in. You will see a photograph of the children getting psyched up to tree climb. I do feel so fortunate to work with children and to hear the different ways that people live in the community I live and to understand that poverty and violence need to be something that we combat especially for the sake of future generations!!!

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