Pennsylvania State University, Women's Enrichment Center

Rating: 5 stars   9 reviews

Issues:

Location: Penn State Eastgate Center 1010 North Seventh Street Harrisburg PA 17102 USA

Mission: Penn State Women's Enrichment Center uses the arts to encourage inmates to reflect on their lives and through rewriting them, re-right them.
Results: Since 1994, WEC sponsors four ten-week sessions each year where inmates can focus on reflecting on their lives in order to assume responsibility for change.
Target demographics: Inmates in Dauphin County prisons
Direct beneficiaries per year: 160
Geographic areas served: Dauphin County

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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

13 people found this review helpful

I've learned that I'm not alone in my struggle to reach for the top, and to be all that I can be! Also that I don't need a man to make me legitimate! I'm woman! I hold my own fate, my own destiny. I hold my own future in my own hands. (received by TFEC via mail, entered by an employee)

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the readings, discussion, and writings helped me change. I learned that I need to express more verbally.

Ways to make it better...

I liked everything. Continue what you do!

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

One thing I'd also say is that...

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-3-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

15 people found this review helpful

I learned about all the subjects we read about a little more in depth. I addressed the issues I had with each subject. I learned a little about myself in the process. And I learned a different persepctive on all of the issues. I listened to people's stories and experiences and took somethign from their sharing. I also learned about the author and how she perceives certain situations. (received by TFEC via mail, entered by an employee)

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

I liked the book. I liked the author. I thought she was very wise. And I thought the book was informative and spiritually uplifting. I enjoyed getting questions from the men and giving them feedback. I enjoyed the group discussions and hearing other peopl

Ways to make it better...

nothing.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

One thing I'd also say is that...

nothing.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-3-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

14 people found this review helpful

I learned that as a person I have problems just like everyone else, and that some problems are worse than mine. I also learn as human beings, we all have valid feelings and opinions. (received by TFEC via mail, entered by an employee)

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

It brings things to the table that apply in everyday life and how we can deal with them, and I also like the fact that we are about to write about the topic that we talk about.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-3-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

16 people found this review helpful

I learned to open up. All the feelings I have inside me. To express my most inner feeling. Ms. Irene has taught me a lot. I have been working on my own story book. I let other peopel read my thoughts and feelings with the help of Ms. Irene.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

I love being in creative writing class. I just can't wait for Wednesday to come so I can go to class. To learn more and more about myself and others.

Ways to make it better...

there is nothing I would say that I dislike about this class or group.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

One thing I'd also say is that...

I think that everyone that loves to write their feelings should come to this group. I hope that the class would be a little longer because it feels like it just started when it ends. So I wish that it can be a little longer next and in the groups to come.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-3-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

9 people found this review helpful

I have actually learned a lot in this group. I have learned that as a woman, I should respect others and also be respected at the same time. I learned to speak my mind and not let others get me down. I learned that it is a wonderful thing being a woman. I learned to appreciate myself no matter what others think about me. I learned to love and respect others. (received by TFEC via mail, entered by an employee)

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

I like the readings that we have. I like the teacher of this group. I like the fact that I can express my feelings in this group.

Ways to make it better...

the group was not so short.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

One thing I'd also say is that...

I'd like if the class could be longere and more than just one day a week.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-2-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

10 people found this review helpful

I've learned hwo to better my communication skills. I also have a different perspective on some issues or should I say emotions in life. That life is a roller coaster but it's only what you make it. By me reading and discussing what I read in this program also gave me a new and better outlook of myself and others.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

I liked the fact that we do talk about our feelings and at the end of each reading we talk and discuss if we agree or disagree if we can relate or not and we all have different opinions but we're not judged on how we think or feel.

Ways to make it better...

there's nothing to not like about this program. It's educational.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

One thing I'd also say is that...

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-2-01

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

11 people found this review helpful

Dr. Irene Baird’s Women’s Enrichment Program at Dauphin County Prison changes lives for the better. It is for this reason that the Cameron Foundation has supported the program for many years and continues to do so. Dr. Baird’s present program is an outgrowth of a 1992 pilot program for homeless women at the Harrisburg YWCA. The pilot program was based on Baird’s belief that a study of the humanities can lead to a better understanding of ourselves and our communities. She aimed to provide women who had experienced personal crisis with a non-threatening way to develop self-identity and self-esteem as they solved real-life problems. Based on that mission, Dr. Baird began an expanded program for incarcerated females at Dauphin County Prison. Now, many years later, convinced more than ever in the power of the humanities to change even deep-seated attitudes and behavior, Dr. Baird teaches incarcerated males as well as females. Dr. Baird chooses short pieces of literature—poetry and prose—by authors like Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, Patrice Gaines and Sandra Cisneros, whose themes such as addiction, poverty, lack of education and domestic violence, are familiar to group members. After reading the works, the students write poems, brief essays or sometimes letters, reflecting their own situations. Several students have expressed themselves powerfully in drawing as well as in writing. At first the program was only for females. However, Dr. Baird had long recognized that issues of domestic violence, abuse, and irresponsible relationships are consistent, dominant themes in the women’s writing. Consequently, she formed a partnership with the prison counselor who worked with abusers, to develop a pilot writing program for men. This pilot program was in addition to the everyday, mandatory counseling male abusers receive. With the men in the program, Dr. Baird initiated dialog between the men and women which further increased the effectiveness of the program. Anyone reading Dr. Baird’s student writings will understand how important this project is. The following is just one small example of how Dr. Baird’s program teaches students to accept responsibility for their actions; a necessary first step to improving their lives. Free Yourself I don’t wanna get out of prison as much as I want the prison outta me. I don’t wanna take off these browns. I want to take off indecency. I don’t want to stop going to yard out. I want my dirty backyard all cleaned up. I don’t wanna stay outta my cell past 9, I want selfishness to stay out of my heart. I don’t wanna stop eating this horrible food until what I used to do stops eating me. I don’t wanna stop making my bed by 8 until I can make up my mind to stay free. I’ve been imprisoned too long with the doors all locked and the keys sitting on a shelf. Do I petition the courts, my P.O. or lawyer? No, I appeal to myself. The question becomes why go on, why work to fund this program? Why dream of establishing programs like this around the country? The answer is hope. Hope that these men and women will serve their sentences, leave prison with new knowledge and a sense of self-empowerment, an understanding of what’s possible. And above all, the hope that they will never return to prison. -Gretchen VanDenbergh, Overseer, Cameron Foundation (received by TFEC via mail, entered by an employee)

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the writings that result from Dr. Baird's program.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-5-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

16 people found this review helpful

Through the Women's Enrichment Center, I learnd about all the subjects we read abot a little more in depth. I addressed the issues I had with each subject. I learned a little about myself in the process. And I learned a different perspective on all of the issues. I listened to people's stories and experiences and took something from their sharing. I also learned about the author and how she perceives certain situations.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

I liked the book that was chosen. I liked the author, I thought she was very wise. And I thought the book was informative and spiritually uplifting. I enjoyed getting questions from the men and giving them feedback. I enjoyed the group discussions. And hearing other people's experiences in love.

Ways to make it better...

There wasn't anything I didn't like about the group.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

One thing I'd also say is that...

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-3-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

18 people found this review helpful

The Women's Enrichment program administered by Dr. Irene Baird is the region's best kept secret. It doesn't grab headlines with facts and figures, but it does affect fundamental issues and does change lives. Dr. Baird opens the minds or incarcerated individuals shackled by poverty, violence and ignorance and provides a creative and thoughtful environment to explore human worth and dignity through literature, discussion and writing. This is accomplished in a difficult environment amid societal stereotypes, bureaucratic challenges and economic realities. As an advisory committee member, I've listened to Dr. Baird's accounts, read the journals of her program participants and seen the research that does tell us that systemic change is possible through a program such as this.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the journals of her program participants.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008-11-01

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