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Author Topic: Group Helps Mothers in Prison Connect with Children  (Read 5517 times)

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Offline Forevermah

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Group Helps Mothers in Prison Connect with Children
« on: April 17, 2009, 06:01:33 AM »
Group helps mothers in prison connect with children
Program focuses on inmates recording messages to kids



April 17, 2009
By WENDY FOSTER For The Sun

When Mary Walsh of Lisle visits area prisons as a volunteer for Aunt Mary's Storybook Project, she goes armed with children's books, a recording device and lots of Kleenex.

Tears inevitably are shed as women serving time briefly resume their interrupted roles as mothers by recording their voices that are then presented to their children.

"These women are human beings, and they love their children as much as I love mine," Walsh said. "Oftentimes, they'll talk on the tape, saying how much they love and miss their children. Sometimes this is the only way the women have of being in contact with their children, and they take the time to apologize and promise to do better.

"It's sometimes very difficult, and we usually need the Kleenex."

Aunt Mary's Storybook is a project of Companions Journeying Together, an organization that reaches out to individuals in state and county jails and prisons.

"So many of these women have had horrible lives and have made poor decisions," Walsh said.

Companions relies heavily on support from local churches to provide donations and volunteers for its programs. Walsh first learned about Companions through her church, St. Raphael in Naperville, which holds regular book drives for the organization.

As a former teacher, Walsh said that she was drawn by the program's objective of promoting literacy. As a mother, she added, she cherishes the tradition of parents reading to their children. Aunt Mary's Storybook is a way of parents and children reconnecting with each other in a positive way.

"This is just a ... way to give them hope and to know that someone cares about them enough to do something," Walsh said.

She says children benefit the most from the project.

"These kids have to deal with the separation of having their mothers incarcerated, and it's not their fault," said Jana Minor of Batavia, founder of Companions Journeying Together. "Children love and need to hear from their parents."

Another Companions program under way is the Mother's Day Project. Church Women United in Naperville, a group of about 300 members representing 22 area churches, has been collecting stationery, note cards, stamps and writing implements. These items will be assembled into packets, which will then be distributed to women and juveniles in Illinois jails and prisons.

"We collect things that any of us would be proud to send to our own loved ones," said Naperville resident Rose Bagley, president of the group.

Recipients are encouraged to use the items to touch base with their families and friends in time for Mother's Day.

Minor said the project is increasingly popular. And, she says, it serves a Christian mandate.

"We know how to do other things like serve the poor and the hungry," Minor said. "But this is frightening, and people don't necessarily know how to go about it. We offer them doable things."

Although Companions' extensive volunteer pool is made up largely of various church groups, the projects themselves are not religious.

"We just want to convey to the people we serve that we believe there is something good in them, that they were created by God and God creates good things," Minor said. "There is goodness in everyone. We want them to get in touch with that goodness, and we want to help them establish better lives for themselves and for their families."

http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/napervillesun/news/1527472,6_1_NA17_LSCOMPANIONS_S1.article
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Offline Jims

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Re: Group Helps Mothers in Prison Connect with Children
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2009, 08:45:11 AM »
This is wonderful. I just made a comment on the Sun's site that the same kind of efforts should be addressed at the fathers. We should be treating mothers and fathers with equal importance since so many statistics dealing with juvenile crime indicate the lack of a father within the home can decrease the child's chance for success in life and increase his/her chance of getting into trouble. It perpetuates the prison cycle. But kudos to these volunteers for giving of their time at the women's prison.

I just have to ask, though, why programs such as this are allowed at the women's prisons and not the men's?
What's done to children, they will do to society.  ~Karl Menninger

Offline Scout

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Re: Group Helps Mothers in Prison Connect with Children
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2009, 08:50:32 AM »
I have to ask the same thing.  The women get many more opportunities for classes and programs than the men do.  I don't know if he's done it yet or not, but G is going to be filing a gender discrimination grievance on this very same topic.
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Offline Amarie

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Re: Group Helps Mothers in Prison Connect with Children
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2009, 11:36:25 AM »
It promotes the fathers not being involved. Fathers made the mistakes just as the mothers so why are they treated differently? Mind boggling.
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Offline Jims

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Re: Group Helps Mothers in Prison Connect with Children
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2009, 12:25:29 PM »
And while many men would love to step up to the plate and be good fathers, others rely on the societal bias to get away with fathering children by many different partners and not taking care of them, not being a part of their lives, shifting responsibility to the mother. I have always believed, however, that women hold the key to changing this irresponsible behavior! First and foremost, DON'T HAVE THE KIDS with him if he isn't going to be around to raise them! Seems like a no-brainer.
What's done to children, they will do to society.  ~Karl Menninger

Offline Dazzler

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Re: Group Helps Mothers in Prison Connect with Children
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2009, 12:34:28 PM »
Isn't it a shame that these organizations are recording mother's messages to their childdren and not facilitating a telephone call?  Undoubtedly due to the outrageous cost of a phone call from an Illinois prison....parents can't even participate in their children's everyday lives because of the prohibitive cost....and it's planned that way...so the IDOC can reap huge profits from inmate phone calls.....
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Offline bullheaded

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Re: Group Helps Mothers in Prison Connect with Children
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2011, 08:00:32 PM »
this sounds like a program my l/o would greatly benefit from. she already had 2 small children @ the time of her arrest, which btw, was her 2nd arrest ever & her 1st conviction that has landed her a lengthy sentence. she was pregnant @ the time of her arrest & has since given birth while incarcerated 2 a baby that she only saw 4 a few brief moments in the hospital when she gave birth. she was an excellent mother & someone i would trust with my own children. granted she made a mistake but that is sort of besides the point considering we all have a l/o with that issue or we wouldn't be in a forum like this. how can i find out more about this & any other programs 4 her that she might be interested in? thank you.

Offline HisGirl

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Re: Group Helps Mothers in Prison Connect with Children
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2011, 08:41:20 PM »
This was originally posted in 2009,  but there is a link you could go to or try contacting the church on Naperville to see if they are still doing it.

And it is a wonderful thing for mothers and fathers alike. I have always believed that family unification is a key to reducing the recidivism rate. And is beneficial to the morale of long term iinmates.
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