A Celebration of Achievement

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In January, the graduates of the Fall 2004 ReConnect session gathered with family, friends and Correctional Association staff to celebrate the end of the program with a festive certificate ceremony and reception.

ReConnect works with women who have recently been released from prison or jail. Formerly incarcerated women face many challenges—from finding jobs and housing to reuniting with their children. ReConnect’s 12-week curriculum helps women overcome these hurdles and make a successful return to their communities. The workshops teach a variety of skills: how to access resources, expand support networks, and get involved in grassroots advocacy. Another benefit of the program comes from the support and encouragement the participants share.

As I presented the certificates, the women spoke about ReConnect and their goals for the future. Some are settling into new jobs and apartments; others have become advocates with the Coalition for Women Prisoners, a statewide advocacy group coordinated by the CA. All are focusing their skills on building the lives they desire. The graduates talked about how ReConnect gave them a safe place to speak about their problems and to be heard by people who want to help them achieve their goals.

To close the evening, Stacey Thompson, Community Outreach Coordinator for the Women in Prison Project and a ReConnect alumna, sang a song in honor of the graduates. Project Director Tamar Kraft-Stolar noted, “The success of each ReConnect graduate is a success for all of us. Formerly incarcerated women have the right to advocate for themselves and the issues they care about, and ReConnect enables women to exercise that right.” Many thanks to Natalie Abatemarco, Monica Chaves and Sandy Fernandes of Citigroup for their generous support of this event.