Breaking the Chains
Why I Started This Program
My name is Gina and I am a convicted felon. In 2002 I was sentenced to five years in the state department of corrections for a white collar crime. This was a life changing experience for me. It changed my life in so many ways. I learned my lesson. I met some amazing women during my incarceration. I know that most people think of women in prison as what is portrayed in the movies or as being these horrible people, and yes, there are some women that I met who were not good people - in fact they were violent, unstable, in some cases mentally ill - but there were also normal, decent people who had just made a mistake. Some married the wrong man, or hung out with the wrong crowd, others were suffering from drug addiction or women who had defended themselves against an abusive husband or mate. There were women from every race, every age group and every type of background. One common theme among all of the women was the need for someone to care.
Alot of times, these women are abandoned by their families or don't have anyone on the outside to be there for them. I wanted to change that. I wanted to let them know that there was someone who cared. it is hard to explain how lonely and isolated you feel when you are there. Normal life ceases. You are a number. The only connection to the outside world is what you can see on tv, or in a newspaper, or if you have contact with someone on the outside.
I realize that when we do wrong there is a price to be paid. I know that when you commit a crime, you must pay for that crime. I also realize that just because someone commits a crime - this does not make them a horrible person. As humans, we all make mistakes and do things we should not do. I do not help women who have been convicted of harming a child, that is my one rule. I try to help as many as I can, and a friend of mine who is still incarcerated helps me coordinate things from the inside. I do Fall boxes each year (the inmates receive them in November, so its close to Christmas). I also do Spring boxes to accomodate the women who I am unable to help during the Fall program. They are ordered through the SC Dept of Corrections. The first year I did three boxes, in 2011 I did 24. I hope to do more each year. My co-workers, family and friends donate and I receive some donations from several churches as their funds permit. Items that are sent include underwear, socks, bras, towels, and food items.
I get thank you letters and they are very heart touching. I would be happy to share them with anyone that requests them. I also write to numerous ladies and send birthday cards, holiday cards, news articles, etc. I have helped several women upon their release with basic items such as clothing and shoes, and have also helped with job searches and preparation of resumes. Mainly, I am someone for them to talk to - to share their struggles with and to listen and offer encouragement.
I welcome monetary donations, as well as clothing, shoes, purses, makeup, personal items, cards, stationary, whatever anyone would like to contribute I put to good use. If you would like to donate time to help - that would be much appreciated as well, as I am a one woman show and it gets hectic at times! Thanks for stopping by my website and if you have any questions feel free to email me on the contact form.