Free Minds Reentry Support Spring Update!
First, a giant thank-you is due to all those who participated in the one day matching funds challenge, as well our continued donors- we are honored and humbled by your support, and we truly couldn’t do it without you.
Free Minds has had a busy few months with events in our reentry support program- Book Club members home in the community have read their poems for a conference of school principals from across the country for the Department of Education, participated at open mics across the city, completed internships in our office, dialoged with students in the public policy program at Cesar Chavez Charter School, and more.
Our latest reentry event was a joint workshop with Free Minds members and their Probation Officers. This was, as you can imagine, an unusual proposition, but by the close of the evening everyone was energized by the results.
Will, our Reentry Coach, led an exercise in which the Free Minds members pretended they were Probation Officers, and the PO’s pretended that they were recently home on probation and struggling to find employment. There was a lot of laughter, and surprising results. We concluded by all writing poetry together, and the Free Minds members were especially moved by the poem of one of the officers:
I Used to Work at the Jail
by a Community Supervision Officer
When you say I want to see you locked up,
what I want to say is that I used to work there
and I would never want to see you go back there.
what I want to say is that your family deserves for you to be in the community,
but I can’t make those decisions for you.
what I want to say is that your past does not have to dictate your future,
but you have to learn the lesson for yourself.
what I want to say is that I used to work at the jail
and that experience is why I’m your Community Supervision Officer today,
to see the change beyond the jail.
Needless to say, it was an eye-opening experience for everyone! Probation Officers and recently returned citizens can often find themselves in an antagonistic relationship, but these creative writing exercises helped them to understand each other and build a collaborative partnership. Your support helps us provide the basics like metro cards for youth who are home in the community to travel to and from these workshops. Each workshop helps to foster self-awareness within our members, root them further in the larger community, and to build a network of positive peer support that is so integral to preventing recidivism. We will be posting more updates with photos soon, so stay tuned!
With deep gratitude,
The Free Minds Team
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