Turning Stories into Life Changing Lessons
The Total Life Recovery Program (TLR) at the only Women’s Community Correctional Center in Hawaii is a faith-based, gender specific program that addresses every area of a woman’s life mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. TLR equips participants with the knowledge and tools they need to live successfully everyday with dignity and self worth – bringing hope to incarcerated women who are now committed to changing their hearts, changing their thinking and changing their goals.
I started volunteering here after another volunteer program I was involved with was put on hiatus with program changes. I prayed about what and where I could use the same hours that I had dedicated to serving my community. It is funny how God will answer your prayers sometimes. Within my question: what shall I do next? I was asked by 3 separate people if I would consider volunteering in the prison. I hadn’t thought about the prisons at all. I thought my opportunity would come to work with more keiki but when I considered what I could contribute with to these women, I felt certain that they had to deal with the same fears all my students of all ages and backgrounds have had to face and conquer: premature criticism of their creativity and capacity to make things that express their choices and feelings and that it was beautiful. So many kids by age 11 are afraid to make ‘mistakes’ in art–it is so sad. So, with no background in bible studies, GED teaching or working in the correctional system, I went about getting my clearance, training, etc. I felt that my conviction that everyone has their own unique style that I can’t teach them–they have to discover it on their own, but I can equip anyone with a toolbox to use to do the work would be enough.
I’ve enjoyed the weeks going in and planning lessons where I introduce a new technique and theme so the women have a chance to build skills and to challenge themselves to be open to try something new. The materials are supplied by generous support by the Hawai’i Watercolor Society and their commitment to supporting educational experiences to our community is a big reason why I am proud to be a member and also looking forward to serving as President next year. I want to see more HWS members get to volunteer in programming we will continue and expand next year as we share our love of the media.
Watch an award winning video about Total Life Recovery and the great people involved and who have gone through the program.