The Beauty of Kindness In Incarceration
By: Justin, Riley’s Way Senior Intern, The Browning School
Every year, the Riley’s Way Council makes an effort to find solutions to an issue in their community that breaks their heart. The Council decided to continue to work on building connections and relationships with women who have been impacted by incarcerated, partnering with the organization Talk2Me. The members of the council believe that these women, like all people, deserve a second chance. On May 21st, the Riley’s Way Council hosted a dinner for these women and their children to create a space that made these women feel cared for and supported. The Council supports these women as they build their confidence, courage, and bravery, which is seen when they share their stories. Speaking to these women taught me to understand that if people are supportive and believe in them, then they will believe in themselves. Listening to the women share their experiences allowed me to fully understand where they were coming from and how these relationships have helped them become who they are today. In one of the stories, a woman was incarcerated for thirteen years and recently graduated from college, which shows how much can be accomplished in a matter of time. Sharing stories allows listeners to connect with the story better, make connections and find commonalities. Women feel known for who they are and don’t feel the stigma that some may attach to incarceration. This was a big factor as to why people felt comfortable when they walked through the door that evening. They did not feel that they are outsiders. Instead, they felt like they were sharing their stories with other community members. These types of relationships break down barriers and demonstrate how powerful kindness and storytelling can be in bringing people with different backgrounds or experiences together.