I guess it goes back to when I lived in Central New York and was the director of a woman’s residence. The Chadwick Residence was managed by Christopher Community the housing affiliate of Catholic Charities. The Bishop of the local diocese came to me and asked if I could start The Nesting Program at Chadwick. This program would give women who were pregnant and incarcerated in the local county jail a special, safe place to be during the final two weeks before their due date. I said “yes” of course and began my journey. Fast forward a few years. While serving on the faculty at Tusculum College in Tennessee, I learned about the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program at Temple University. I attended a wonderful training session with the founder Lori Pompa and awaited for the chance to teach a class inside as my passion for working especially with incarcerated women grew.
A dozen or so years ago, I moved to Easton, Pa. I became active in the community and met some wonderful people. One was a young woman working on her MSW at Monmouth University who asked me to supervise her internship at the local county jail. Of course, I said “Yes.”( I could, I suppose, name this posting “The Trail of Yeses!”) When we went inside the local jail, we met amazing women who were eager to work with us and tell us about their lives. We were also shocked at the lack of programming and counseling for the women who had suffered from incredible trauma and addictions. So the path of the Journey Home began. We introduced sessions on art therapy, life narratives, nutrition, parenting, and many other topics. I was hooked and have been going inside the Northampton County Correctional Facilities almost every week since.
For the next few entries, I will share more of that history.