Going into the jail each week is often an anxious experience, but coming out, having shared of ourselves and participated in the workshop in just the same way as the women we serve, it is immensely satisfying, and sometimes it is downright exhilirating. As women in our groups begin to share from their life experiences in the program's activities, we find that trust is built, people examine their lives, we learn from each other, we discover new ways of thinking about ourselves, we experience sisterhood--so many good things happen! At our most recent graduation from an 8-week workshop, one young woman declared that this was the first time she had ever graduated from ANYTHING. Previously I had some experience working with the incarcerated in a more free-form discussion mode. I find that the Step By Step workshops, which are highly structured and based on finding the strengths within ourselves, are incredibly powerful. They get right to the important things in life and get us all thinking about our life stories and where we want them to go. One difficulty is that Step By Step needs more volunteers willing to do this direct, hands-on work. If I am asked to do something extra, I feel I almost HAVE to say yes.
Step By Step offers a powerful program for incarcerated women. They have demonstrated the ability to consistently meet troubled women wherever they are in life's journey and help them to understand - and believe - that they have the power to create a better life for themselves and their families. They literally change lives!
My experience with Step by Step of Rochester has revealed the extreme dedication of the founders and staff of the organization. This experience is probably best summed up through a chance encounter I had with a woman that went through the Step by Step programming while incarcerated a few years ago. Since attending the programming classes to help instill confidence and skills necessary to reengage within our community, she now has a full-time job, bought her first home a year ago, and even volunteers her time. This is an amazing true life example that speaks volumes to what Step by Step of Rochester is doing not only to assist incarcerated women, but also the trickle-down benefits it provides our community.
Step by Step of Rochester dedicates itself wholeheartedly to improving the lives of women who have been touched by the criminal justice system. Their workshops in the county jail and state prison are meant to guide women through the difficult work of coming to terms with their lives and finding the beauty and strength in themselves. By using arts and crafts, writing exercises, and other activities, the workshops provide a valuable outlet for the women to reflect upon their actions, their identities, and the challenges ahead. The staff and volunteers convey deep respect for the women and make them the experts of their stories. SbS also does case management in the jails and helps connect women to community resources. Once out of jail and prison, SbS is a welcoming place for those women who wish to continue their journey. They offer facilitated group sessions, family outings, and retreats.
Step by Step has touched so many ex-offenders and women at risk of imprisonment. As a result of the workshops and support received from Step by Step, these women return to the workplace, return to school and return to a positive sense of self. Step by Step has reduced the recidivism rate among participants. They work on a shoestring to help women piece their lives back together. It is a blessed community which deserves support.
This group focuses on helping women. They have used our latest book "Serving Productive Time," as well as our other books "Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul" and "Serving Time, Serving Others."