by Kathleen Littlepage
We are at the end of a month of fundraising efforts for Truth Be Told and some of us get worn down by the energy it takes. I could try to hide this truth about myself, but that would belie our belief that the truth is always important and there are no “perfect people” only people who are traveling the path of personal growth. When Carol and I get tired, we seek out what Carol calls the “oxygen of inspiration” and we don’t have to look far for that. Here are some stories that remind us what a difference our programs make. I invite you to share our inspiration and remember that Amplify Austin ends at 6:00 p.m. Friday, March 6, but our work to support incarcerated women continues.
Carol’s parents, Doyle and Peggy Chandler, lovingly make and donate a quilt for each program graduate who stays involved with our Beyond Bars activities for three years after being released. Some of Peggy’s beautiful designs come to her in dreams and recipients often express how the quilt she received is perfect for her. Sending or delivering those quilts is Carol’s most joyous job responsibility. Carol mailed quilt number 42 to Donna (learn more about her story) and got this response: “When I got home last night, I had the best surprise on my door step….MY 3 YEAR QUILT! I’ve waited for this day since I first walked into my Truth Be Told class. It means so much to me because it is a symbol of how far I have come and all the accomplishments I have made in the three years since I’ve been home. But most of all it is a symbol of the love and dedication and support of Truth Be Told. Since the first day I walked into class, they have wrapped me up in their love and support and have stood by my side helping me find myself and guiding me every step of the way. So receiving this quilt is perfect because as I wrap it around myself, I feel them wrapping me in one of their famous hugs. I can feel their love and support as if they are right here with me.” Right before Willa received quilt number 41, she said, “Ms. Carol it’s 5 days until my 3 year mark. I have held on to the memory of that quilt. I think about your momma and your daddy making those quilts and I say ‘girl, I am gonna get me one of those quilts’. Ms. Carol it’s real hard out here, but I don’t even turn my head wrong.” Willa always finds a way to stay connected even though she regularly has a different phone number and has been living without electricity for three months.
Each Other’s Miracle
Katie, a longtime facilitator at Lockhart prison, wrote in her blog, La Querencia, about a woman who helped out a classmate and how it affected them and everyone else.
“All of us in the room could feel it. We felt proud of Stephanie, compassion for Jessica and honored to have witnessed it all. We were a circle of women who had, inside a prison, successfully built a community of trust, of love, of compassion, of authenticity, of truth, of integrity, of hope, of healing, of new beginning.”
In Their Words
Karen was released October 30th, 2014 and contacted Truth Be Told three days later. She shared why Truth Be Told classes are important: “The principles, the ideas, the creativity, the events, the listening, and most of all the being seen, heard and loved. These things spread throughout generations. The people that y’all touch on the inside, we take it home with us and we take it to our church, to our family and friends, to AA meetings, and everyone we meet benefits. I look at people differently now. I am better able to listen and have compassion for others. It changes lives more than you can even dream.” After 15 years in prison, Monica was released July 2, 2013. She regularly checks in to share:
“I am doing good and I am staying out of trouble.” She says, “I found Truth Be Told so that I could find the real me.”
Kasey has been free for less than three months. “Prison is not a place to rehabilitate, it teaches you to be a better criminal. When I joined Talk To Me Circle, that was my first step into recovering.” Kasey was incarcerated at 22 and released at 27. “I grew up in prison.” Upon her release, Kasey chose to live in a home where she knows no one, “changing people, places and things.” The hardest things for her have been not seeing her twins at first and watching her father’s funeral on a video because she was in prison when he passed away. Because Kasey learned the importance of sharing your story in her Truth Be Told class, she already has spoken at a local jail and to a 4H group. You can donate to a graduate’s Amplify fundraising page Cara, Dara, Kimberly, Kay.