Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mental Illness - Barriers to Care

According to the National Institute of Mental Health:
  • 3.6 million American adults with severe mental illness are untreated. Of those:
    •  200,000 are homeless
    • 319,000 are in jails or prisons
  • 20 times more people with mental illness are incarcerated than in a medical facilities.
For more information read "Imminent Danger" a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel special report by by Meg Kissinger.  http://www.jsonline.com/news/law-creates-barriers-to-getting-care-for-mentally-ill-135387808.html

    Sunday, December 18, 2011

    BOOK REVIEW ON GOODREADS

    12/16 Rhoda Jenkins gave 5 stars to: The Women of Block 12 (Voices From a Jail Ministry) by Linda Pischke
    bookshelves: first-reads
    status: Read in December, 2011

    Firstly I would like to thank the author Linda Pischke. As I won this as part of First Reads, I have very much enjoyed the opportunity to read and review this book.

    This book is divided into 2 sections: the first the author shares her experiences with working with the women in prison, how she coped, what it was like etc. The second section consists of the women's stories.

    The book was fascinating!! What I particularly liked about the writing was that the author did not come across as the "expert" in what to do and how to do it. She painted a very human picture of himself, including her own reservations, flaws and judgments. I greatly admired her honest and down to earth descriptions of what she saw as her own shortcomings throughout these experiences. It's very reassuring to know that people in her position also have flaws like the rest of us and don't always have all the answers either :-)

    The women's stories were quite tragic.....it's difficult to imagine living a life like some of these women have experienced. Although most of the women believed that they were going to be able to embrace a different future for themselves with the help of God, you have to wonder how many actually will. Certainly by their own accounts, old habits are very hard to break. Let's hope for their sake that they can!

    Lastly, whilst this book is religious based, for those that shy away from structured religion (or any religion for that matter), do not let that put you off reading this book. I believe it is sensitive to all beliefs and is definitely not "preachy". I thoroughly enjoyed it!

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    SHALOM MINISTRIES - MILWAUKEE

    This week I was contacted by Dawn Schmidt from Shalom Ministries. She expressed an interest in "The Women Of Block 12." Of course, I'm always excited to hear from readers and potential readers! Dawn shared her brochure with me and gave me permission to post the information on this blog.

    CAUGHT UP IN LIFE'S STORMS?  Poverty knows no age, gender, race, religion, politics, social status or region. It is un-biased and eagerly awaits us all. . .
    Did you know:
    • The average age of a homeless individual in America is 9?
    • The average age of a homeless individual in Wisconsin is 7?
    • 1 out of 4 children in Milwaukee live in poverty (25.6%)?
    • Tonight, 4 out of 10 children in Wisconsin are considered to be suffering from malnutrition?
    • 1 out of 5 single mothers in Milwaukee admit having to give their babies "something else" to eat besides needed baby formula or milk?
    • 22.8% of the homeless in Milwaukee have a full-time job, but still can't afford to rent or own a home?
    • Of those who are impoverished and homeless, suicidal thoughts and tendencies start as early as age 10, depression at age 9?

    Check out Shalom Ministries on Facebook and consider volunteering or making a financial contribution. This wonderful organization has served our community since 1995 by sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meeting the needs of area families.

    Thank you, Dawn, and Shalom Ministries for making such an important contribution!
    * * * * * * *

      Saturday, November 19, 2011

      Dinner at La Estacion Restaurant

      La Estacion
      La Estacion
      319 Williams Street
      Waukesha, WI 53186

      November 18, 2011. Joyful Souls Aftercare group met for an amazing dinner at Waukesha's finest Mexican restaurant, La Estacion. This wonderful evening was a gift from 2 secret Santas.


      Thank you for the blessing of great food and fellowship! You are truly amazing!!!!!
      * * * * * *

      Check out December's calendar to the right of this posting for information on upcoming events.
      * * * * *

      Friday, October 14, 2011

      LETTERS 4 THE LORD

      Our Letters 4 the Lord
      Our Joyful Souls Aftercare group began a letter writing ministry with the help of Linda O'Dell from Letters 4 the Lord prison ministry. Tonight we designed cards and wrote letters to 10 special women in prisons in Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Florida. Joy brought art supplies and helped us get started on our project. We dined on cold pizza and soda and teased each other about our" artistic" abilities. 
      Mentor, Joy teaches us how to begin

      Sharing our thoughts and prayers
      We all agreed it was hard to write to a stranger for the first time. Some of us shared favorite Bible passages. Others talked about our group. Some of the women told their penpals that they, too, had been in prison.










      It is our hope that this will be the beginning of some very special friendships that will help all of us to grow in our faith.


      For More information about women in prison visit my website: http://TheWomenOfBlock12.com.
      * * * * *

      Free Chicken Soup Books for Prisoners!

      Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul Tom Lagana, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul, Serving Time Serving Others and other wonderful books, sent me a message that he is offering free books for prisoners. Read the following:

      Prison staff and volunteers may e-mail TomLagana@yahoo.com for details about receiveing a free box of books for the prisoners they serve. Titles and quantities are limited. When responding, please include your  name, phone number, facility name and address, how the books will be used to benefit inmates, and your ability to pay $79 per box for shipping and handling.   

      Our St. Vincent Ministry purchased a large quantity of these books 2 years ago and the men and women at the jail LOVED them!

      For more information about women in prison visit: http://TheWomenofBlock12.com.
      * * * * *

      Tuesday, September 20, 2011

      Ten Reasons To Do Jail Ministry

      1. BosGuy: June 2009You hear God’s call and finally listen to Him. 
      2. You find out that only God should be the judge of others.
      3. You learn how to love people who don’t know how to love you back – but they learn. 
      4. You have the privilege of being ‘mom’ or ‘dad’ to someone who needs one. 
      5. You get to see that ‘child’ grow in faith through God’s grace.
      6. You learn that sharing the Gospel is simple - just bring the love of Jesus to those in pain. 
      7. God gives you the strength to ‘hang in there’ even when the outcome is not as you planned. 
      8. Your prayer list gets longer. 
      9. Prisoners will pray for you more than you’ve ever been prayed for in your life.
      10. God will bless you in unexpected ways.
      11. Because Christ called me 2 it and I have a very strong passion and Burden 4 it. (Letters 4 The Lord Prison Ministry). http://prisonministry.net/Letters
      * * * * *

      Readers: I'd love to hear from you! Please share your own benefits/reasons for participating in jail ministry and see how many we can come up with.
      * * * * *
      For more information visit: http://TheWomenOfBlock12.com.
      * * * * *

        Friday, September 2, 2011

        BOOK REVIEW


        Kristine McGuire
        Book Review ~ The Women of Block 12
        June 11, 2011
        "I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."Matthew 25:36 (NIV)
        The Women of Block 12 by Linda Pischke is an eye-opening view of life in a correctional facility and the people who minister there in Jesus name.
        The book is divided into two parts.
        The first part details Linda's personal journey as God called her to join the work of a prison ministry. She details her struggles in her own life. Prejudices and reasons why she didn't believe she was suited to work with prisoners. God had other plans. Opportunities were presented to write a prison ministry newsletter. Later she accepted an invitation to conduct a writing class. Through it all, Linda found herself drawn into the lives of women who desperately needed the love of Jesus Christ. Linda gives the reader a look into life inside a prison, bound by the rules and control of the people in charge. She shares the form her ministry took as prisoners cycled in and out of her weekly class. She writes with honest passion for her subject .
        The second part are the personal stories of the women themselves. Who they are, their backgrounds, their families. They describe the choices they made which found them in a place of despair. Many of the women were victims of abuse, addicted to drugs or alcohol. They have lives out of control. They are women who want a better life but struggle in finding it. They are human beings deserving of love. These are the stories of real people.
        The Women of Block 12 is informative. Facts about women and crime are listed throughout the book. Information is offered on how to get involved.
        The Women of Block 12 is a poignant book but not perfect. Minor flaws in the first few chapters make the story a little redundant. The use of Eastern Meditation/Visualization with the women as part of Linda's class troubled me. What is most evident is the fact these women are being loved. This book highlights the importance of reaching out to everyone, especially those in prison.
        I recommend buying a copy of The Women of Block 12. I think it would make an excellent book for small groups or Sunday school classes. The book brings a lot of information to light about the prison system, the treatment of prisoners, and our own attitudes which is worthy of discussion.
        THANK YOU, KRISTINE!
        * * * * *
        To purchase a copy of "The Women of Block 12": http://TheWomenOfBlock12.com.

        Tuesday, August 30, 2011

        HEART OF GOD EAST AFRICA

        My Photo
        Denise Matthews
        Heart of God East Africa is dedicated to taking the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Africa.  I was recently contacted by Denise Matthews founder and Volunteer Executive Director of this wonderful program. She was interested in The Women of Block 12 and graciously offered to let us post stories from her ministry.

        Hundreds of thousands of women are imprisoned around the world. Despite their differences in nationality, language, culture, and location, their stories have common themes. They are often the victims of their circumstances having been born into cultures that dominate and abuse them. Over the coming weeks, I will share Heart of God stories with you.


        HGEA Prison Ministry: Broken Chains – The Story of Susan … “my body will be hanged but my life is in the LORD.”

        The woman about whom you are about to read is named Susan. Susan in on death row in a women’s prison.
        In order to protect her and the ministry the name of the prison is being withheld.
        She is very dedicated to the Lord. As you will read this wasn’t always the case.
        Susan was involved in the murder of her husband. She says that her husband didn’t have enough trust in her, he could not make decisions over his trust in her without the counsel of his mother. Susan became frustrated and felt the need to claim her right as a wife. Things got progressively worse, they were fighting nearly everyday.
        One fateful night, things would change forever in the course of Susan’s life. Her husband came home and they began fighting. They fought almost the entire night. Susan felt that her life was in danger and so she plotted to kill her husband. Susan was not a believer and made her decision based on two reasons.
        Number one, she wanted to end her misery. Number two she knew she would benefit from the riches of the family.
        She devised a plan with the house maid and they killed her husband. They made the claim to authorities that they had been attacked by gangs. Investigations were made and she was found guilty of her husbands murder.
        Susan has been in prison for the past twelve years. Five years ago, Susan had an encounter with God. She confessed her guilt of murder, she poured her heart out to Him and the LORD had mercy on her.
        Susan has since that time become the praise and worship leader in the prison. She witnesses to the other women.
        She is condemned to hang in November 2011. She is not afraid of her judgement because she knows that “my body will be hanged but my life is in the LORD”.
        Susan claims, “the LORD allowed me to come here that I may know HIm, so I know I will not die here”.
        Susan recently sat for her senior 6 exams and passed. She is now enrolled for university classes.
        When you look at Susan, it’s hard to believe her story. She sings and worships God with a love like no other. She is not what you would expect to see of a woman in prison about to be hanged.
        When our team ministered inside this prison in June 2011 and found the news about Susan’s sentence it broke our hearts. She radiates Christ and sings with joy in her heart. This is a woman whose chains have been broken!
        Susan’s favorite scripture is “He turned my mourning into dancing” Psalm 30:11.















        Life Transforming Prison Ministry, Saphan Muhanguzi
        * * * * *
        For more information on women in prison visit: http://TheWomenOfBlock12.com.
        * * * * *

        Friday, August 26, 2011

        Watercolors with Ronna

        First we sketched. . . .
        Beautiful!
        The next Georgia O'Keeffe?
        Joyful Souls Aftercare group had our first art class with guest teacher Ronna Paradowski.
        Photographer Pat -
        one of the creative ones!
        Way to go, Gerri....


        Joy's display board with everyone's paintings.

        Thank you Kathy K. for your donation of art supplies!

        Sunday, August 21, 2011

        DEALING WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE


        UPDATE - Joyful Souls Women's Aftercare met on Friday, August 19th with therapist Jill Turcott-Nielsen . This is Ms. Nielsen's third visit to our group. The topic was "Dealing With Difficult People."

        First, we were asked to make a (private) list of individuals who we considered difficult to deal with along with the individual traits that were problematic for us. No one had trouble coming up with a list!  As we shared our thoughts, common behaviors emerged. Our difficult people included those who are:  *gossips, * controlling, *argumentative, *abusive, * liars - - - the list goes on. We soon realized that most of the difficult people in our lives are familiar to all of us. 

        Jill explained that many of these individuals have underlying issues that really don't have anything to do with us, Instead, their behavior is motivated by a wide range of problems such as childhood trauma, poor self-esteem, addiction issues and varying degrees of anger and rage. She asked us to step back from a situation in which we were confronted by a difficult person and consider the underlying causes before deciding how to respond.
        Twelve group members shared their "difficult people" scenarios and Jill offered suggestions for dealing with each situation.
        * * * * *
        Jill Turcott-Nielsen is a Catholic Therapist who has a private practice in Wauwatosa, WI. Her specialties are couples therapy, trauma, relationships, depression and anxiety. She can be reached at: 414-258-2600.
        * * * * *


        Saturday, August 13, 2011

        Women and Pornography

        Ad
        I just finished reading a book by Crystal Renaud called "Dirty Girls Come Clean." I wanted to mention it on this blog because is is about another kind of addiction that affects women - the addiction to pornography. Crystal has a ministry specifically designed to help women step out of this dark and hidden obsession into the light of forgiveness and healing through faith in Jesus Christ.

        I will be interviewing Cyrstal on my next blog, take a look at her website  DIRTY GIRLS MINISTRIES, and check back in a few days for her interview. The book is available in paperback (just click on the photo above) or on Kindle, which is where I read it.
        * * * * *

        Tuesday, August 9, 2011

        A REVIEW IN MY MAIL BOX!

        My thanks to Jane B. - Brookfield Central High School - class of '63 who looked me up on our reunion website and decided to read my book. Jane, You made my day.

        I finished reading The Women of Block 12 a while ago, and haven’t stopped thinking or sharing its content with others. The book was so powerful that I found the message disturbing because it conveyed reality—the women were victimized and so wrongly shaped as children. Added to the book’s intensity it is told through your personal and intimate experiences of which evoked authority. I had to set the book aside at times because it ignited so much emotion. It must have been a difficult task for you—performing emotional ministry and then reliving the women’s stories while writing the book. Congratulations to you again!

        You are a talented writer and an inspirational leader. The first part of your book, explaining the circumstances/backgrounds of women in prison and how you became involved in jail ministry was enlightening. Although the subject matter was grave, you managed to intertwine humor that exemplified your genuine humility and tremendous compassion. I was impressed and enjoyed your writing style. When will your next book be published? Truly, you are on a roll.

        The book’s second part giving individual accounts was so sobering. The contents of the letters were authentic, being from your journals. That credibility intensified the depiction of victimized women. Interestingly to me, the women never (my interpretation) blamed others, instead tried to rise above their circumstances forgetting they were helpless children during years which should have been a loving, understanding, and caring period.

        On a side note, living a few miles from Orlando, I was bombarded with Casey Anthony media. Yes she was perhaps a poor mother, and yes lacked good judgment, but I cannot stop relating her developmental life to The Women in Block 12 . All humans are born innocent beings and through their growing years are influenced, shaped by parents and circumstances. Your book influenced me to look beyond media portrayal and try to understand the influence of Casey Anthony’s young life in her dysfunctional family. What a distressing heartbreaking happening for her, her lost child, her parents, and so many others. Please accept my side note as a complement to you; your book has a life of its own, spilling over and impacting my thoughts, trying to understand her rash behavior.

        My next emails are to my close BCHS friends with information and encouragement to read Women of Block 12. Your book is a powerful writing.
        Take care, and keep me posted regarding your next book. I am truly a fan.
        Jane B.

        PRISON MINISTRY AT CHRIST THE SERVANT

        Stained Glass
        Christ The Servant Lutheran Church - Waukesha, WI

        This evening, the council of  Christ The Servant Lutheran Church in Waukesha, WI will consider the adoption of a prison & jail ministry as a part of our outreach to the community.

        The proposal of this program is the result of recent changes in our church community.
        • Members of Christ The Servant have graciously embraced my book, "The Women of Block 12." As a result, many are participating in the support of an ex-offender and offering help to the Joyful Souls Aftercare group held at the St. Vincent dePaul Store in Waukesha.

        • Members of St. Andrew's Church, Waukesha, will be joining our congregation for the first time this Sunday. St Andrew's has a strong presence in the community as a church that ministers to Huber Facility inmates. This ministry includes, Bible studies, mentoring, and bringing inmates to church.

        • Pastor David Zant and his good friend, Eric are proposing an outreach to correctional officers. Eric is a CO in a nearby county jail and he is initiating prayer support and Bible studies designed specifically for officers.
        There will be three brief presentations to the council this evening on Aftercare, Huber ministry, and correctional officer outreach. I will keep you posted on this exciting proposal as our congregation moves forward in serving the Waukesha community.
        * * * * *
        For more information about jail/prison ministry visit: The Women of Block 12.

          Wednesday, July 27, 2011

          LETTERS FOR THE LORD PRISON MINISTRY

          This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Linda ODell, creator of "Letters For The Lord" Prison ministry a nation wide outreach to prisoners.
          Q: Linda, tells us about yourself .
          A: My name is Linda ODell and I am 53 years old. I have been married to my husband, for 30 years. We were unable to have children because I had cancer so it's the 2 of us plus 3 dogs, and 1 cat.  My husband had a relative who was wrongfully convicted and served 7 years. During the time we visited her, the Lord put a burden on my heart for all of the rest of the women in prison who never got visitors.

          Q: How long have you been doing this ministry?
          A: I started writing to prisoners back in the 70's when I was a teen. I just had a passion for the imprisoned. the Lord gave me the name, "Letters For The Lord." This ministry is my own creation. Of course, the Lord created it in me, but I have others who assist me in "adopting" prisoners to mentor by mail. I work the ministry out of my home and use the internet to promote the ministry through my website, facebook, and twitter.

          Q:  How do you find inmates that want penpals?
          A:  I get many requests each week from prisoners who want someone to write them. I write to as many as I can and match them to other Christians as the Lord provides volunteers. Its easy because, once you write to an inmate, they tend to share your address with others. And , by word of mouth, the requests just come in. I match the inmates to volunteers who offer to help.

          Q:  Is there a screening process for volunteers?
          A:  I usually get the volunteer's testimony or the reason they are drawn to writing prisoners. I ask them what their connection is to prison (i.e. have they served time or do they have a family member in prison). If I feel they want to volunteer for the right reasons, I accept them. I stress "this is a ministry for Christ, not a matchmaking service as many others are. This is a ministry to bring prisoners to Christ and to fellowship and encourage prisoners who already know Christ."

          Q:  What are your guidelines for writing to prisoners?
          A:  Use common sense. Write your letters as if you are writing to a friend. Begin by sharing your testimony and faith in Christ. Share life experiences, hobbies, etc. Just be a friend. Keep it simple. Share your life, your thoughts, your faith.

          Q:  What are some of the things a penpal should not do?
          A:  Never send money or anything of value, never get romantically involved. Don't make promises you can't keep. Never give out personal information or financial information (SS #, credit card info. etc). Just one caution. If you decide to send a photo (after you are well established with the person) send only a group photo and never one of your minor children). You can use a P.O. Box or your church's address. I have personally used my street address and never had a problem.

          Q:  What is the hardest part of your ministry?
          A:  The hardest thing is to find other Christians who desire to mentor prisoners by mail. Prison ministry is the least popular ministry in most churches. Even in my own church, I am our prison ministry. Most people don't think about it until a family member ends up serving time. Second, is funding for postage, tracts and literature that I send out.

          Q:  What is the most rewarding part of your ministry.
          A:  All of it! The letters bless my heart. To see the prisoners come to Christ and watch them grow. They minister to me far more than I do to them. Christ is our mentor. Many of the women go back into the prisons as volunteers.

          Q:  Any success stories you'd like to share?
          A:  One woman, Lara, has been out for several years and is starting Bible College this year. She is so excited and so am I.

          Q:  How is your ministry funded?
          A:  My own personal funds as well as the donations of caring individuals. You can donate safely through PayPal. I also accept stamps, Bibles, and good Christian books.

          Q: Is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?
          A:  This is the most rewarding ministry. Christ calls us to visit him in prison. We do not bring Him to the prison when we go inside. He's there waiting for us in the hearts of believing prisoners. We get to join Him in His work.


          Thank you, Linda, for sharing your ministry with us. To find out more about Letters For The Lord, check out Linda's website and blog. 
           http://LettersfortheLordprisonministry.com
           http://LettersfortheLordprisonministry.blogspot.com

          * * * * *
          Readers - Please share your prison ministry stories with us!

          Friday, July 22, 2011

          JOYFUL SOULS ARISING

          The women of Joyful Souls (an aftercare group for women in the justice system) never cease to amaze me. We have so much fun on Friday nights at the St. Vincent dePaul Store in Waukesha, WI. People from various churches have been supporting us with donations of craft supplies, speakers, classes, food - anything you can think of. Tonight, some  benefactors gave us silk flowers, vases and floral supplies. Our group is so proud to show off their creations!

          It's ordinary people caring about each other that makes this program a success.


          If you're in the area, stop in for faith, fun, friendship and food - every Friday evening 6:00 - 8:00 pm at the St. Vincent dePaul Store on the corner of Sunset and Prairie in Waukesha.
          * * * * *

          Thanks to all our members and faithful supporters.
          God Bless You!

          Linda

          P.S. "The Women of Block 12" is now on sale at the St. Vincent dePaul Store.
          * * * * *

          Sunday, July 17, 2011

          YOU'RE INVITED

          Presentation & Book Signing
          Thursday, July 28th 7:00 p.m.
          Mukwonago Community Library
          1012 Main Street
          Mukwonago, WI 53149
          (262) 363-6411

          Tuesday, July 12, 2011

          IN THE NEWS . . .

          I love to share a good story, especially when it shows how positive, creative, caring people come together to solve a problem. Here are two examples from Google News today.


          Camp offers children of the incarcerated a chance to spiritually thrive and survive

          Charlotte Strowhorn of Gary Indiana has a personal mission, to provide a summer camp experience for children of incarcerated parents. With the help of 36 churches from the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana, Charlotte was instrumental in creating Camp New Happenings, a tuition-free program that, this year served 32 children.
          This article, written by Philip Potempa, includes some alarming statitstics about children of the incarcerated.
          * * * * *
          Enjoy!
          Linda

          Monday, July 11, 2011

          BOOK REVIEW

          From:
          Gail Grenier Sweet
          WOW - What a bite reality is!
          I  have led some writing workshops at a women's county jail, so I had an idea about what I was in for when I picked up Linda's book. However, the second half of the book blew my mind. The last 11 of the 22 chapters are first-person accounts written by jailed/imprisoned women of all ages and backgrounds. After I read them, I thought, "How do you ever pull yourself out of that morass?" Each woman wrote about a slightly different hell of a morass, including beyond-rough upbringings, abuse, and addiction. The message is clear... when you're so low that down seems up to you, there's only one ladder out: FAITH. Thank you Linda, for your honesty regarding your own faith journey... and for being a door through which these women may walk into our lives. - Gail Grenier
          * * * * *

          Friday, July 8, 2011

          YOU'VE GOT MAIL!


          To keep up with the times, I've joined the masses and started texting. So now, my phone sings a little "You've got mail" song. Yes, I'm probably too old for this nonsense and no, it's not my primary means of communication. But clearly, it's a challenge.


          My granddaughter is patiently teaching me the language. Don't laugh. I already knew what LOL meant. But have you heard of:
          • G2G - gotta go
          • BTW - by the way
          • LYLAS - love you like a sister
          • TMI - too much information
          And in case you are ZZZZ (sleeping or bored). That's all I'm gonna teach you, for now.

          While texting my granddaughter, it occured to me how important it is for us all of us to communicate with each other. Years ago, people did it by writing long letters. Can you imagine waiting months for that stagecoach?

          Then came the telegraph, telephone, ham radio, computer, cell phones, skype etc. and the art of letter writing lost it's appeal for the younger generation. Word is, it may also be disappearing for the rest of us. But, never underestimate the value of the written word.  Last week I received a letter from an inmate at Taycheedah Correctional Institution.

          She said, "I was so happy to see you wrote! Getting mail is like gold here, especially for me.. . . so I was thinking, maybe one night, your group could color some pictures or make some postcards and send them to women like me."

          That statement just broke my heart. It is so easy to send a card or letter to someone in prison. From the comfort of your home, for a cost of $.44 - you can share the Gospel and change a life. Here's a safe resource to help you get started.

          Letters For the Lord Prison Ministry
          www.prisonministry.net/Letters

          * * * * *
          For more information on women in prison, visit my website: http://TheWomenOfBlock12.com.

          G2G,
          Linda
          * * * * *

          Monday, June 27, 2011

          Ministering to Women in the Sex Trades




          Carol, a highschool friend, told me about a group in Texas "We Are Cherished" that shares the Gospel with women in the sex trades. There are so many similarities to what we do for women offenders. I called founder, Polly Wright, and asked her for an interview. I know you will be blessed by her message.

          Q. Your website states that your ministry is directed toward women in the sex trades. Can you tell us who that includes?

          A. We help women in all parts of the industry including women who dance in strip clubs, prostitutes and escorts.

          Q. "We Are Cherished." What a beautiful name for a ministry. How did you decide to call it that?

          A. When asking God about what He thought of His daughters and how He saw us, He kept bringing up the word Cherished. And I loved the name “Cherished!” I looked up online to see what URLS already had Cherished and of course they were all taken. So I took it back to the Lord and He kept saying, “It’s not all about you it’s about all of My daughters!” You are Cherished! But because WE are all in this together WE ARE CHERISHED!!! By a beautiful and mighty King!

          Q. What led you to choose this particular direction for reaching out to others?

          A. I come from the industry myself. I used to be a dancer and all that encompasses that trade. The Lord grabbed my heart in 1999 and has been doing a mighty work since. After much healing through the Word of God & learning and pouring myself into His will for me, He started telling me approximately three years ago that my story was to be used for His Kingdom. I said “Yes” to Him in Aug. 2010.

          Q. Is there a specific location for your ministry or are you only web-based?

          A. We have our offices in Colleyville TX and service the Dallas/Fort Worth TX area. We take emails and phone calls from people outside of our area and try to help where we can with resources and encouragement.
          Our website is also full of resources for women who may not want (or are not able) to contact us but would like help.

          Q. The sex trades aren't readily visible to most of us. How do you find the women?

           A. We actually go to the women in the strip clubs and take them gifts and an information card telling them that we are there for them if they need anything. If you do not have clubs in your area you might want to talk to your local police department about areas that seem heavier in prostitution. Please tread lightly though for the safety of the women and yourself. It can be dangerous for them if their pimp thinks they are trying to get free and get help. Please use caution and wisdom. I’ve heard of people talking with some of the motels and giving them free small bars of soap with help information on the wrappers. Also ads on buses.  If God has put on your heart reaching out to the women in the industry ask Him who and how He wants you to proceed. He will guide you.  

          Q. What would you say are the most common reasons someone would enter  this type of lifestyle?

          A. Sixty-six to ninety-five percent of women in this industry have been sexually abused as children. So our perception of what love is has been twisted and warped. Our desire to be loved and accepted or “in control” of men may be some of the factors. Poverty and having no family support is also another draw for making money. Very few women get into this business that have not had some kind of trauma during their  life.  

          Q. What kinds of services do you provide?

          A. We Are Cherished provides a weekly dinner and support group on Wednesday nights. The support group is for women who are currently in the industry or have been out and just need support from women who have been there.
          We provide a mentor program specifically designed to help women in the sex industry. Our hearts are to build a “community” a “family” around a woman and help her visualize her dreams as they were before the enemy took them away.

          We help with resources such as budgeting, receiving or completing education. We assist in job searching and resume writing plus practice interviews.

          We also have a Cherished Boutique that gives women a time to be spoiled for the precious daughters of God that they are! We help them pick out outfits and shoes and accessories to help her feel better about going to an interview and get a couple of outfits for everyday too! This is by appointment only so we can make sure each women gets her fair share of spoiling!

          There are so many other ways we help. Most importantly, we help her see how God has always loved her and has a perfect promised plan for her. We help her see she is loved, valued and cherished by Him!

          Q. Are the women open to being ministered to, or does it take some encouragement?

          A. Most women receive us really well when we come into the clubs. Who doesn’t love a fun gift of earrings, lip gloss & lotion??? When they ask us why we are there we tell them because we love you and some of us have been in the business and want to tell you and encourage you and love you right where you are in life.

          The women who call us are usually ready and in a place to be ministered too. We do not go into the clubs preaching the Gospel by mouth, we preach it by actions. We LOVE!

          It has taken time to build relationships. There are approximately 65 clubs in the DFW area and we go monthly into 14-16 clubs. We are able to revisit each club every 3 months and the women are seeing we are investing time and love in them on a regular basis. We will be back again and again to tell them the same thing. That we love them!

          Q. What age groups have you encountered in your work (youngest/oldest)?

          A. We usually do not get ages and, maybe because I’m older now, the young women seem so much younger! LOL! You have to be 18 to dance in the state of TX but we do know that there are much younger girls in the clubs. The oldest dancer we know of is in her mid-forties. The average age for a prostitute is 12-14 years old. *Polaris Project (We have not encountered this as of yet because we are not reaching out directly with this type of industry yet.)

          Q. What is the hardest part of your ministry?

          A. The stories and not being able to “fix” the situation. God told me from the beginning, “It is not my job to save them it’s my job to love them.” Some of the stories are heart breaking but we just have to remember that God has them right where He wants them and He is doing a mighty work in their hearts and we must pray and be obedient to what He wants for them. Jesus NEVER gave up on me and many of the other women I know from this industry. I also struggle with not being able to help them financially get back on their feet or help subsidize their income just a bit so they don’t have to go back to dancing.

          Q. What is the most rewarding part?

          A. It is when their eyes are open to the heart God has knitted in them! When they get a job and are  able to stop dancing or prostituting!  When they see, for the first time, they are valued! When they break the cycle in their own families and build healthy relationships. The ultimate reward is when a woman will be able to be in this ministry helping other women who have been in her situation - when she realizes her story matters and has a greater purpose.


          Q. Is there a way for others to help you in this ministry?

          A. YES! There are so many volunteer opportunities in We Are Cherished! You can come to help stuff the 500-600 gifts a month for outreach.
          You can volunteer your time in the Cherished Boutique helping women get “Clothed in Beauty and Grace." Or you can help sort clothes or do a clothes drive for the boutique.
          PRAYER!!! If you are not in our area and or are not able to give time we always love prayer especially on outreach nights which are the 3rd Fridays of every month.
          You can do a gift bag collection. We put lip gloss, fun earrings, 3-4oz lotions/body sprays, nail polish, make up in the gifts we take to the women.
          You can also give a financial tax donation to We Are Cherished.
          If you feel led to go into the clubs you will need to fill out a volunteer application and be trained.
          To get more information on volunteering you can email us at volunteer@WeAreCherished.com

          Q. Is there anything else you would like to tell my readers?

          A. God is doing a mighty work in His daughters in this industry. When I had finally said “yes” to Him in Aug. 2010 I opened my Bible immediately to a verse He had put on my heart 7 years ago about my daughters.
          “Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to Him for the lives of your children, who faint from hunger at the head of every street.” Lamentations 2:19
          He said, “Polly, these women are My children and I want you to go and love them.” I didn’t argue with Him from that point forth and He has blessed His daughters over and over again!
          I am every statistic. I went into the industry because I thought that was all I was really made for. After a failed suicide attempt I hit rock bottom and left the industry. Years later God became real to me; because for so many years I hated Him. I didn’t understand why a God so great would have let all the horrible things that happened to me happen. But by His Grace and His Love and His Patience I finally saw Him for who He really is: A loving Father, a mighty King, a Friend.

          Thank you so much for asking us to share our hearts for We Are Cherished!

          Many Blessings!

          Polly Wright



          Monday, June 13, 2011

          YOU'RE INVITED

          Presentation and book signing
          Tuesday, June 14th
          6:00 p.m.

          banner

          Saturday, June 11, 2011

          First Book Review

          My thanks to Kristine Mcguire for reviewing my book on her website today. 
          Kristine Remixed.
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          Friday, June 10, 2011

          Volunteer Opportunity

          I ran across this video about a men's aftercare ministry in Missouri.


          They have only a 10% recidivism rate for those who go through this one-year  program. There are many volunteer opportunities (prayer, financial help, hands on volunteer work). Here's the contact information for those interested.


          P.O. Box 6644
          Chesterfield, MO 63006
          Office: 636-391-8560
          MissionGateMinistry@msn.com
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          Sunday, June 5, 2011

          Joyful Souls After Care Group

          Friday, June 3rd marked the beginning of a new program offered by our St.Vincent dePaul jail ministry. Ten women gathered to form a support group for women who hve been in jail or prison. This will be a weekly affair - every Friday night - at the new St. Vincent dePaul Store on Sunset Drive in Waukesha, WI.
          Our goals for the group are to provide:
          • Spiritual support
          • Educational opportunities
          • Resource locator
          • Healthy social relationships
          • A voice in our community
          • Just plain fun!
          And we had a lot of fun. It all began with introducing ourselves to the group. . . I thought we'd never stop talking! Given the chance, women have a lot to say.

          Next on the agenda was a planning session. We are looking forward to guest speakers, a glamour night, music, drum circles, recipe exchanges, music/sing along, craft classes, and time to volunteer in the SVDP store.

          If anyone has more ideas or would like to suggest some guest speakers, programs etc. please contact me in the comment section.

          And, by the way, one of our new members suggested the group name, "Joyful Souls." Thank You.


          I sought my soul
          but my soul I could not see.
          I sought my God,
          But my God eluded me.
          I sought my sisters
          And I found all three.
          Anonymous

           
          I'll keep you posted.

          Linda

          Sunday, May 29, 2011

          Tattoos on the Heart

          Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion [Book]
          Gregory Boyle was the keynote speaker at the St. Louis Convocation of Jail and Prison Ministry that my daughter and I attended May 14 - 18. Father Boyle is a Jesuit priest who has worked with Gangs in the Los Angeles area for over twenty years. During that time, he founded Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program aimed at helping young men and women find employment and learn to work alongside their peers. Fr. Boyle's motto is "Nothing stops a bullet like a job."

          "Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion" is a series of his rich, and often humorous stories describing his experience working in the ghetto. All proceeds from the book are donated to Homeboy Industries.


          Father Boyle's presentation had a profound impact on his audience. We were there because we minister to the imprisoned and hope to bring about change in both their personal circumstances and the legislation that affects them. He spoke about how we were to align ourselves with the poor and disadvantaged. The focus of his message:

           "Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a covenant between equals."

          In his book, Fr. Boyle says,"The strategy of Jesus is not centered in taking the right stand on issues, but rather in standing in the right place - with the outcast and those relegated to the margins" (Tatoos on the Heart, pg 72)

          Gregory Boyle lives this message. I highly recommend the book "Tattoos On The Heart." It will forever alter your view of the disadvantaged. It will open your heart to young gang members. It will change your life.

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