Hello Free Minds Friends!
Since our last report, we've been extraordinarily busy here at Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop! Our members continue to amaze us with their creativity, resilience, and motivation to achieve positive goals. As always, we could not do what we do without your support. Here are just a few of the things we've been up to this summer:
Dear Free Minds, The words I am typing cannot relay the emotions I have been experiencing today since your visit to my class. I am taken back by the sharing from Michael, Antwan and Lamarzs. You were so touching .I cannot wait to see my students in class on Wednesday to talk about their thoughts on the morning. Thank you so very much. I will be in touch to work together more to help our young people stay on the right track...
None of these exciting new developments would have been possible without support from dedicated members of the community such as yourselves! We'd like to share a few words from the Free Minds members:
"Free Minds has really changed my life dramatically for the better. I overcame a real life struggle with Free Minds right behind me the whole way through. I was a young man (15) when I first met Free Minds. I didn't know what way my life was headed, facing over 30 years at a young age. I lost my whole family to this thing called life (three brothers killed in the streets) so I really didn't have no hope or motivation for life but Free Minds really showed me I am still here for a reason. They told me we going to overcome this sentence and they did it day by day. When I came home, they employed me. My work in Reentry helps me strengthen myself and strengthen others with the On the Same Page events to let young men who are in the same shoes I was in at that age know that there's more to achieve." – Antwan, age 22 "I’ve decided to change my life. I loved all the books you sent that got me thinking a new way. I did a lot of violent things in the past and I want to start over. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you are here to help me when I’m home. I’ve been locked up for 4 ½ years and so much has changed and I need help. Thank you Free Minds." – Mark, age 21
We are incredibly grateful for and humbled by your generosity and your belief in our work. Thank you for everything that you do!
Dear Free Minds Friends,We have had a busy spring here at Free Minds, and we can’t believe how the time is passing! Recently, formerly incarcerated Free Minds members led their 8th poetry reading as part of our booming Community Outreach initiative, “On the Same Page: Free Minds Poetry in the Community and the Classroom.”Free Minds Reentry members are committed to education, awareness, and to stopping the cycle of youth incarceration. Using poetry as a tool for healing and preventing violence, “On the Same Page” unites diverse audiences in DC and begins a vital dialogue to find community based solutions. Reading works from our literary journal They Call Me 299-359: Writings from Incarcerated Youth of Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop Free Minds members lead participants in a discussion on the causes of youth entering the criminal justice system. Recently our Free Minds poets took their powerful message to youth in the juvenile justice system at DC’s Youth Services Center. The ability to share from their past experiences to help others has been life-changing. Free Minds member Dashon describes why he facilitates “On The Same Page” sessions: “It allows me to help youth avoid the same path that I was on when I was their age and gives them a start on a new road. I show them that doing positive is always more fruitful.” Recent “On the Same Page” events have also been held at Bell Multicultural High School, Booker T. Washington Public Charter School, and Georgetown Law Criminal Justice Clinic. But that’s not all we’ve been up to! Some of our other recent activities include:
We are continually awed not only by the achievements of our members but also by the breadth of support in the community. We could not do as much nor reach as many people without your generosity and belief in the transformative power of writing. Thank you so much!
Dear Free Minds Friends,
We can’t believe it’s already turning into spring! Free Minds has had an active few months in the Reentry phase of our program. We couldn’t do it without your support, and we’re excited to share a few achievements with you here:
Your support not only helps us to provide opportunities for members returning home from prison, it sends a powerful message of your belief in their abilities to choose positive new life paths. We are so grateful!
You can stay up to date by liking us on facebook, visiting our website, and reading new poems every week on our writing blog.
Free Minds has been staying busy this fall, with new initiatives both inside the jail and out. We want to share with you a few highlights from our Reentry Support phase, which has been supported by this project.
We are so grateful for your commitment and support that sustains us and makes these programs possible. Consider making a donation to Free Minds as a gift for someone this holiday season. The majority of members in our program had never read a book cover to cover before meeting Free Minds- sharing the gift of reading is a wonderful way to honor a loved one!
Be sure to like us on facebook and for more information, you can always go to our website.
Free Minds Reentry Support Summer Update!
It’s been a hot summer in DC, but Free Minds has been up to good things, and it's all thanks to YOU! Our friends and supporters have truly allowed us to share incredible experiences with our members, from the new Harry Potter movie to a meditation event aimed at relieving stress.
A few weeks ago, we were lucky enough to be featured as a grantee in a DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities video! Two of our members appear in the video, and they also had the opportunity to learn firsthand about the process of shooting a film. You can see the short video here!
Two reentry support members have recently completed the one week paid internship program, an important step in equipping youth with job readiness skills. As part of the internship Brian McEwen, a Free Minds mentor, came to give a presentation- you can read about Brian’s wisdom on our homepage www.freemindsbookclub.org (scroll down), and see a supporter profile of him here.
We’ve aso been lucky enough to have a reentry support member interning in our office through DC’s Summer Youth Employment Program. Among other activities, he has been helping us design curriculum and games for book club, typing up the poetry of youth currently in DC jail, and researching new venues for Free Minds to present writing.
Free Minds has been attending events outside of the office, as well. Several members and staff attended the eagerly anticipated final Harry Potter movie, and even brought their own wands! More recently Free Minds went a different kind of book event: an evening of chant and meditation, in conjunction with Sharon Salzberg's new book "Real Hapiness". Free Minds uses a basic meditation technique as a way of centering at the start of Book Club at DC Jail, and thought that these techniques might be useful for members working to adjust to lives home in the community. After the event, Free Minds member Eric affirmed that “I learned a lot about meditation and chanting,” and was so impressed he recommended that chanting be offered as a routine part of Book Club. He also said he hoped to continue to practice it in his own life. “It's going to be good for me. The chanting made me feel really relaxed.”
We also recently hosted a reentry workshop at Sankofa Bookstore Cafe where members came to sit down, listen to music, talk with friends, and write poetry for our new Literary Journal, which will be published later this year.
Finally, we are developing a new project for support on GlobalGiving- we’re inspired by this initiative, and we hope you will be too. Keep a look out in the coming weeks for the Books Across the Miles project (we like to call it BAM!).
Thank you so much for all of your support. We’re so excited about our recent events and initiatives, and for you all to be a part of them!
With gratitude and appreciation,
The Free Minds Team
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.