TBT empowers women behind bars to transform into gifted contributors to society. I was an inmate in TDCJ at the Lockhart Unit. I am so blessed to have been sent there. Early on in my sentence I determined to make the time count. TBT taught me to embrace the truth of my story and to recognize patterns, triggers etc. I signed up for every TBT class and special event. Particularly meaningful to me was graduation day when free world people came to.hear our stories. My, my! An amazing experience! TBT brought a drum circle out to the prison! I carried the joy of participating in that circle for months! I wrote everyone I know about the drum circle experience! So spiritual! There is not a day goes by that I don't reflect on my TBT experience.
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I am not sure where to start, but then again, i didnt know where to start and where to end, until I told my story in Truth Be Told. I know my story touched a lot of the other women because they told me face to face and on paper. My story couldn't be any closer to the truth because it was the ugly, dirty and rotten truth. I didn't want to tell a story that had good parts or a happy ending, but I did want it to be the naked truth. I was hoping that I would find someone that could say, "hey, i went through that too," and there were others who could sympethize. I have felt alone for a long time. Alone and too embarrassed for anyone to know the truth behind the smile and laughter. Sometimes releasing the pain, embarrassment and hideousness of a situation, causes you to grow much more fond of yourself. Self-respect and self-worth is the lesson that we fail to learn because of what we have been through, and because of what others have said or done to us in the past. I learned that you are who you want to be, not who others say you are or were. Women, we are treasures and we are valuable and we are full of worth. Let's not forget to hold our heads high and let others know we matter. Let's not forget to hold our values close to our hearts so we won't forget that we stand for something much more than just the principle. We stand for strength, because we built ourselvselves back up from a dark place, and now we need to use our voices as a light to shine the way for the others that are yet to come. Don't be afraid of the truth; let the truth be told!!
I met TBT in 2006 while I was in the Lockhart Facility. They were an enormous amount of support as I reentered society and embarked in my journey through life. TBT has been in my support system for 12 years now. The tools they provided me while I was incarcerated has helped me be successful with remaining out of prison, getting an education and being a mentor to others thru serve. TBT invests in the future of women so an investment in this non profit would be benefit to every in society.
I met Truth be Told in 2006 when i was in prison. They taught me about community, communication, caring for self and creativity. The idea of community as a way to stay connected was unusual to me because I had never been connected to anything. The idea of being able to communicate has help me be able to ask for help when I was struggling. The idea of self care helped me stop allowing others to abuse me. The idea of creativity helped me envision the way I wanted to rebuild my life. My life has been rebuilt now and I am thriving within the community I belong. I now have a college degree. a wonderful career helping others and become reconnected with my family. I have had the pleasure of returning to Truth Be told as a volunteer to give back to someone what they gave to me.
In my childhood there were many hits and each bruise took a piece of me. It was through the Truth Be Told (TBT) organization, I found that in telling my story, my real, dark and horrible story, that the abuses and indignities I suffered through, didn’t take the LAST piece of me. That was the piece I held onto in prison when I started the process of revealing & healing.
My story didn’t have a ‘typical’ happy ending. Almost everything I did in my life, I regretted. Words I wished I hadn’t said, damage that I could not undo and almost all of it I wished I could do all over again. I told my story so that each page I had already turned and the bridges I crossed that were already burned, would be a way to help someone who had not yet gone down that path. My path is one that doesn’t allow me to rewrite my past. I got the life I was given and that all those things that broke me, also gave me strength. I finally learned that I cannot fake my past. I cannot change it. I cannot pretend it didn’t happen. Because it was my path and I was meant to take it.
TBT gave me the protection I needed to tell my story. It provided care to make sure I could share my story. Strength to help me start to heal from my story. Because I learned there are many others like me that cannot do it alone. We all need to protect them and take special care until they start to heal too. It’s a long path and one that really never ends but it is an honest and real path.
In time, I found that those truths I shared about the broken path I took, is same one that allows me to breathe for the first time because it is honest and real. I learned that while I am a felon, I am also a survivor. In a previous marriage I was a wife who was a victim of domestic violence, but I am now strong. I am a loving mother, but one who is damaged & flawed. My childhood made have scarred me, but I am healing. I have made too many mistakes to count, but I learned from them & now I am real.
I believe in this program because their efforts are making a real change in the lives of incarcerated women who will be returning to society, with or without the healing from their pasts that brought them into the prison system. This program gives these women an opportunity to face their past, take responsibility for themselves, heal their wounds from the abuse they experienced, and have a chance to turn their lives around.
Attending a Truth-Be-Told event where I got to meet some participants of this program, totally changed my ignorant opinion of women who have been incarcerated. Listening to their stories, meeting members of their families and seeing how they have been empowered by this program made me realize I had to become a financial donor in order to make a real impact in the lives of these women and their families which in turn makes a huge impact on our communities
I first found Truth Be Told at a social justice event, and was intrigued that such an organization existed to help incarcerated women heal and find their true voices. So I joined as a volunteer to teach a class about having a healthy relationship with anger at one of the prisons they served. It was a profound experience, sharing real, honest moments with women that many in our society have written off. Since then I have had the honor to hear some of their graduates talk about how they benefited from the TBT programs - lives are reclaimed, old wounds are healed, families start to function, and our society gains productive members. Thanks!
I am a clinical social worker and was looking for a place to volunteer some time when I heard about Truth Be Told. I was grateful to find that I could be useful teaching a class on having a healthy relationship with anger at the Lockhart prison. I went in with the intention that here, in this non-ordinary environment, I would be with whoever showed up as a fellow human being just trying to do my best in this life. What I found was a group of women eager to heal and grow. We shared, laughed, and some cried as our stories of life in the human condition unfolded. It was clear and evident that something real happened in those classes.
I've been involved with Truth Be Told for a little over a year now, and I absolutely love the organization. They really help women reclaim their lives through the work they do. I've been to the prison to hear the women share their stories and to celebrate their graduation from the program. Both parts were truly life-changing for me. To see the progress and bravery of each and every graduate has inspired me to partner with TBT in my own business and to be more vulnerable in my personal life. The work they do is truly incredible and necessary.
Being a part of Truth Be Told has been one of the most valuable things I have ever done in my whole life.The courage it took for the inmates to share their stories was not only life changing for them, but for me as well. The love and truth that was spoken by the women in the program is contagious. Every time I leave the prison, I feel that vulnerability and clarity and have been able to embrace that in my life continuously. Incredibly powerful and necessary work by the team at TBT.
I went to the Lockhart Correctional Facility for a graduation the other night and what a moving experience! I don't know who received more from it, the prisoners who shared their stories and feelings or the people who were in the audience. Such wisdom was revealed. And it became so clear that we really all are one. We all have the same challenges at some level or another and the same joys. I felt so honored and happy to be there...
Truth Be Told is a profoundly authentic change agent for incarcerated women in prison. It gives women an accepted voice, both flawed and human, to better communicate the journey that led to this resulting sentence, then move with ease into the person they have now become. The work the volunteers do is extraordinary! It is done with tough love, compassion, commitment and fierceness! Thank you for your service to a population of the least served and nurtured. Class by class, each of you ARE making a difference!
No doubt, Truth Be Told is a top rated nonprofit. It encompasses the dedicated successes we look for as we open our purses in support.
Attend a participant graduation ceremony from the Truth Be Told 17 week course and hear these women "speak their truths". Your own life will be forever changed!
Truth Be Told is a one-of-a-kind program that validates the possibility of a second chance, and the beautiful/fragile/often scary exploration of the human condition through all its efforts. I have witnessed first hand the profound impact TBT has on the women it serves, and how the transformative power of storytelling can be life-changing, therapeutic, and grounding. I am honored and grateful for having had the opportunity to volunteer and support the great and important work they do.
Maya Angelou said: "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." Truth Be Told relieves incarcerated women of that burden by allowing them to tell their stories safely. It is an honor to witness these women stepping free of their shame through this simple and ages old tradition. I am humbled each time I sit in circle with these women.
Truth Be Told offers a profound experience for its clients and its volunteers. The change they engender is real and it transforms lives. The experience is one of the most moving and fulfilling I've ever experienced and witnessed.
Truth be told is an awesome program that helped me when i was behind bars I am thankful for this program it changed my life for the better.There were several classes and programs I took but TBT was hands down the best .It helped me open up and share my story and I learned how to put my feelings into words on paper sharing those words opened up a new me. I knew that in my group I didn't feel like anyone was judging me and sharing to me brought a great healing and a forgiveness that I had never felt before. Even after my release Ms. Carol still keeps in touch with me and asks me how I'm doing on a regular basis. I am very thankful for this program and it's volunteers.
My first experience with this nonprofit was as a volunteer attending a graduation ceremony at a nearby women's prison. It was the first time I had ever experienced what it looks and feels like when women lift women higher. My experience was so profoundly compelling, I've continued to support this nonprofit and it's mission ever since.
It was/is the volunteers at Truth Be Told that drew me in just four short years ago. It is because I benefit from the work that I stay. I benefit from our 'What I want you to know about me right now."check ins we engage in before heading into the prison. I benefitted from my facilitator training in that I was asked to do the work that we are asking of every woman behind bars that attends our classes. My skills as a facilitator have developed as this work puts me into an unpredictable environment asking the women to share truths about the decisions they made and the circumstances beyond their control that put them behind bars. It never ceases to amaze just how much personal transformation can occur over the fourteen short weeks of our programming. When I recently asked a graduate (no high school education) which tool she'd chosen to use over the semester that had made the biggest difference, "Gwen" raised her hand and began to explain that she had chosen to use "I" style communication. She explained how she'd used it. I was blown away by her level of articulation...she'd obviously been using the tool! I asked her how choosing to use that tool for the past 13 weeks had benefitted her. She stood up and boldly used to fists to tap her chest saying "I feel better."
TBT is an awesome program. TBT helped me in so many ways and because of them my life has changed for the better. I used to be so shy and quite thought what I said didn't matter but they helped me find my voice and my self worth. TBT helped me tell my story for the first time ever and helped me see that my story was important and could help others like me in and out of prison that they are not alone.They helped me to open myself up and look into my creative side and explore my true self.Thanks to TBT I know who I was,am,and want to be.TBT has phone calls on Tuesday nights to where we can all stay in touch and talk about whatever we need to talk about. Thank you TBT for always being there when we need you and giving us the tools we need to make our lives what we want them to be.
I am a volunteer facilitator with Truth Be Told. Without question, TBT is a special organization with a unique mission. The work I get to do as a volunteer - working hands on with incarcerated women - has changed my life so much, maybe even more than the lives of the women with whom we work. It challenges my view of "the other," while at the same time opening my heart to deeper love, connection, authenticity and vulnerability. Hearing the stories of incarcerated women has changed the story of my life. Thank you, TBT.
What might your life have been like had the people closest to you... sexually, physically and emotionally abused you? And then imagine that you had not one person in your world that you could trust to love you or guide you or be there to protect you? I often ask myself whether I could have survived such a cruel and tragic childhood.
Truth Be Told has developed a simple yet profound curriculum which transforms the lives of incarcerated women, many of which have endured these kinds of traumas over years and years. Participants in our classes report that they finally see a path to face their pain, and begin to heal.
I have been a Facilitator for TBT for 7 years, initially going weekly to a county jail and eventually working in a state prison. I have also facilitated a TBT class in a federal prison camp. I am a member of TBT's Board and am currently the Co-Chair. I am also a major donor. This work and this amazing organization has my heart, my time and my treasure.
It is truly a privilege and a gift to be with these women and witness the transformations that occur in their lives. Often they enter our classrooms slumped down, silent, and uncomfortable with any eye contact. At the end of 8 short, but intensive, weeks they are prepared and willing to stand up proudly in front of a group of strangers and courageously tell their stories. In a startling number of cases, their life stories are of sexual and/or physical abuse, usually at a very young age and usually by a trusted relative. In almost every case, they suffered their trauma in tortured silence, either because they were too afraid to speak or they thought the abuse was normal behavior or their voices were resolutely shut down. TBT work enables these women to speak without shame. Our work enables them to understand that, despite what harm they have done to others and in spite of the harm that was done to them, their lives are not over, they have value and they can positively impact others. Often for the first time in their lives, they experience a safe and loving community.
There is a level of honesty and safety that supports every aspect of this life-changing program, and is fully modeled by the facilitators and volunteers. There is no "other," and the women in the prison system can recognize this authenticity and let their guard down enough to fully engage in the phenomenal programming. These women exhibit more courage and raw honesty than most of us in the "outside" ever do...and move into a place of healing I would not have thought possible. I have attended two graduation ceremonies as a "respectful witness" and emerge humbled and inspired. The program itself itself is transformative and the people who engage with the "offenders" are attuned to the needs of the women, smart and creative, and filled with respect and love for the women they serve. Stellar on all levels.
Women in prison need constant support. Truth be Told provides that support with dignity and creativity through various classes that meet all needs: talking, writing, movement, other forms of creativity with Behind Bars programs. They follow through too with Beyond Bars. Wonderful organization with many success stories. TBT is making a difference!
Listening to women tell the stories of their lives leading up to their time in prison and hearing about the deep life changing healing which they experienced through their small groups facilitated by Truth Be Told volunteers was also life changing for me. It made me realize that these are simply women who have been through a huge dose of the same loss, grief, abuse, and family trauma that all women experience. Now I could understand clearly what they need and could go back home to advocate and vote accordingly. I was inspired to appreciate the value of my own life experiences and to want to make a difference in others' lives!
My favorite part about Truth Be Told is going to their Graduation Gatherings in the prison. The women have done weeks of emotional work in their small groups prior to Graduation. They share such heartfelt authentic stories. It's an honor and privilege to be with them. I have also had the opportunity to be with the women after they are released from prison. Truth be Told is such a lifeline for them as they negotiate their way into their New Life Beyond Bars.
Truth be told is a wonderful group of healing I had a lot of anger and hate in me from my past of rape, molestation, and the hateful devil. But as the tears and the hugs and opening loving help I can say I have forgave the ones who hurt me. And only threw Truth be told that helped me.
Truth Be Told provides wonderful programs for incarcerated women that are making a difference in their lives, and the world around them. Creating a safe space for people to share their stories, support each other, and pursue their best potential is exactly what we all need, and I'm so grateful this organization exists.
I will never forget the month of classes that I participated in with Truth Be Told inside the county jail. The women who facilitate the programs just emanate love and acceptance to everyone they serve. The supportive community they create for women on the inside is continued on the outside in a variety of ways and they are all invaluable. If you have the opportunity to be a witness at the graduations I strongly suggest you do so! You will never be the same! Statistics say that if someone is released and remains free for 3 years the chances of returning to prison decrease drastically so one of the ways TBT supports women is by gifting them with a handmade quilt at their three year mark. There is a sisterhood that exists with the community, and often that is a new foray for many of us, new, but welcomed.
Being a part of a group of women whose goal was to help and assist one woman at a time in acclimating to the world outside of prison, we learned about Truth Be Told. This organization pin points and heals the root of a very basic problem these women have, their shame. They learn to tell their story and learn how everything has lead them to this particular place and that it is not all bad! Through writing, art, conversation, and dance they learn their own worth and that we all have something to offer others, no exceptions. Our communities can fund all the services in the world, but if the person leaving prison is full of shame, frustration, and addiction, no amount of money or services will provide lasting results. We have been working with a Truth Be Told graduate now for two years and I see first hand how this program heals at the heart of the matter. It's hard to put into words, but our relationship with a Truth Be Told graduate, that we set out to 'help', has touched and changed each of us at our core. We have a friendship and new understanding of each other and the world. Truth Be Told is real.
Hello everyone !! I would love to tell you about this great nonprofit program that helped me to turn my life around. I found TBT while in prison. The program helped me realized that it was my own destructive behavior and way of thinking that made me get into trouble. The program made me take a deep look within and make changes with self to help me succeed in life when I was released from prison. There are so many things that I am grateful for that TBT has given to me, self worth, self love, self respect, self care, and a community of women just like myself. I can not express the gratefulness that my heart has when I talk about TBT. Thank you, TBT !!!
I told my ‘story’ for the first time through my TBT class while I was incarcerated at Bryan Prison Camp. Through their wonderful program, their volunteers and their belief that I wasn’t just a number but a real person that had a story to tell resulted in my understanding that I was so much more than that one chapter. I had many chapters to go and I now had the courage to try.
This is a transformative organization. I attended a “graduation ceremony” of a class and was amazed by the talent, passion and creativity of the women; you could just tell they would have a good chance on the outside. Truth Be Told doesn’t just address symptoms, it works on the core issues behind female incarceration. That’s why it works, and that’s why it deserves your support.
I volunteered to attend a graduation ceremony of Truth Be Told, at Lockhart prison. The display of talent, honest emotion, and comitment i witnessed was quite staggering. I have to believe this program makes a huge difference in the lives of these women, and sets them on a path for successful living upon their release. The program leader did a very impressive job of organizing the event.
I was fortunate enough to be able to take the writing portion of truth be told when I was at Lockhart I feel that this program enabled me to be able to tell my story and not be ashamed of it. It also helped me realize some things that were giving me problems that I didn't even realize that they were until I started writing my speech. The ladies involved with truth be told are absolutely amazing and I think that without them a lot of women's lives would not be changed for the better.
The truly transformative work they do for women in prison is awe-inspiring. Helping women learn life and coping skills, helping them to work through their life experiences and learn from them, all of it is amazing. To give someone without hope a second chance and support to help them carry through to a better and more positive future is and endeavor well worth support.
My name is Lee Barnett, I was lucky enough to recently attend a Truth Be Told event at Lockhart Prison.
I'm a felon, who was imprisoned in the federal system and was released in May 2015. Because of my experience I can say first hand that many if not all women who are incarcerated are lacking one very important component in their lives, self-esteem.
What Truth Be Told gives to the prison population is confidence and self respect, as far as I know there isn't a more precious gift to give.
It is so important not only for the prisoners but also for the outside population, to release women who have grown, learned and gained the confidence they need to be productive citizens.
Thank you Truth Be Told keep up the much needed amazing work.
~When you know the truth - the truth sets you Free~. Truth Be Told helps all involved with the amazing organization to profoundly experience this maxim.
I have first hand seen the beautiful way their work touches womens lives and gives them tools to transform internally. Sharing your story frees you and Truth Be Told does incredibly beautiful work with women to help them have the courage to share, be vulnerable and heal.
From my perspective, Truth Be Told is about the "little things" that are larger than life to these women. It gives them a safe platform and environment to tell and express their story in a raw and honest way that has deprived them all their lives. Before experiencing a graduation, I never imagined how empowering Truth Be Told could be by giving these women the tools and skills to open up and allow healing to begin. It is such a beautiful, moving and successful program.
There are times in our lives when negative circumstances yeild positive results. For me, Truth Be Told was exactly that. The programs taught me the importance of community, and having the ability to express my truth whether it was good or bad. I found myself wanting to change my life and my circumstances, desperatley needing to find a way not to repeat events that had caused me great loss and pain. The facilitators are not a group of academically trained individuals that have no "real" experience with heartache, pain, loss or mistakes. They are a group of individuals who can, and do offer real life experience to each person who enters the program. They are mothers, daughters, friends who have lived through similar issues and give of themselves in a way that makes others believe that there is a silver lining; a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, a life after the storm. Truth Be Told allowed me the tools I needed to transform my life. I have pursued my dreams, attained some of my goals, reconnected with my family and I am certain that I couldn't have done it without Truth Be Told.
After 12 yrs incarcerated truth be told helped me understand me helped me use the tools I needed to become a productive member of society and not be a statistic of prison by going back. Someone that had been incarcerated for 12 yrs is guaranteed to reoffend with what I was taught I haven't and I beat those statistics.. Thanks to Truth Be Told.
hi, my name is donna and I was incarcerated for 2 and half years, and have been out for a year and a half. Truth be told brought me light in that dark place- to know that someone cares brings about a sense of self worth- a much needed truth. The volunteers brought total strangers together and we created a safe community, one where we learned compassion, empathy, strength. Unless you have been imprisoned in a jail cell with people who don't care if you are dead or alive, don't care enough to even know your name, you cant possibly understand what a tremendous gift TBT is to an inmate. The tools I was taught, the things I learned, I feel have enabled me to no longer be a victim, but a survivor. Blessings and peace!
A safe place to be heard, seen, allowed to be you while inside a place where you aren't heard, seen or allowed to be you. Love and respect to the women of Truth Be Told who love the women in white.
Truth be Told is an amazing group of people doing outstanding work. Everyone knows that we need better resources to help the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, but Truth be Told makes it happen. They meet people where they're at and provide what is really needed to be successful upon re-entry. They're almost entirely volunteer-run and put all of the focus on the women they serve. It's an honor to be able to support this very deserving cause.
I've been fortunate to see first-hand the important work that Truth Be Told shares with incarcerated women. For more on my experience, please read: http://about.att.com/content/csr/home/blog/2015/04/truth_be_told_myda.html. The organization is in the trenches, helping women find their voices and own their experiences.
Volunteering for Truth Be Told changed my life. I went to listen to these women in prison tell their stories as a way for them to heal. Instead, I fell in love and feel like I belong to much bigger world.
Truth will set you free . No prison is more confining than our own regrets , guilt , and secrets . Each time I've joined the women of Truth-Be-Told in celebration of their hard work the freedom , even in prison , is overwhelming . It's a feeling I crave , over and over . Thank you ladies .
Paul M. AA prison volunteer .
When I first heard of Truth Be Told's Talk to Me program, I was… excited? I don’t really think that is the right word but I had this urgency to tell anyone who would listen that there is a program specifically structured for women in prison tell their stories. This is important. No – this is CRITICAL. I needed to find a way to know more about this.
So, when I saw an invitation posted for Respectful Witnesses to visit the women and listen to them share their stories, I decided it was time to plan my visit to Texas and partnered with a friend to attend the Lockhart event.
As I was preparing to go to the event, my excitement changed to conscientiousness. I wanted to be completely aware of my own energy and to show up clearly present and respectful. These women deserve no less than my full participation.
All visitors walked into the facility and followed established procedures to register. Before starting the event, we were all asked to use a word to describe what we were feeling.
“Overwhelmed.” That is what I felt. I was trying to manage so many emotions at once. I knew I was going to see myself, hear my own story, in the voices of the women speaking. I came from a life of abuse – sexual, emotional, and physical. I lived in a gang environment. I was surrounded by alcoholism and substance abuse. Today, I still carry the effects of coming from a life full of damaging behaviors. In knowing where I came from, I am always working. Working to be well. I know that in my own healing, my work is to be honest with myself. Honest in my own voice and my own assessment of my life and how I’ve lived it. I know I have to dig deep and face my own truth, which is what I heard in the voices of the women who shared their stories.
In looking at our prison system, what stands out so clearly is our failure in working through any real process to reform thinking. This is where Truth Be Told fills a much needed gap. Working with inmates to help them speak their own stories of trauma and life events that led to their current incarceration is key to developing understanding, accountability, and ultimately, changed behavior.
Without this kind of work, we are likely to continue seeing repeat offenders who learn to identify with being "criminal" rather than being human.
As a volunteer and member of the Board, I get to see firsthand the positive and significant impact on the women we serve. TBT offers programs that change lives! It is beautiful and humbling to watch and be a part of.
I got involved with Truth Be Told as a Toastmaster. My volunteer task was to evaluate the speeches given by the women as they learned to tell the story of what got them into prison. I was blown away. The stories were powerful, personal, honest to the bone and heartbreaking. Truth Be Told helped these women form a community in which they could be rigorously honest with themselves and others. I found that almost all of these women were victims of crime long before they committed crimes of their own. But I did not hear self pity, or excuses or blame. I heard women taking responsibility, and learning to make better choices. When the women of TBT speak, the sense of healing in the room is almost palpable. I have the sense that this level of honesty, responsibility for self, and commitment to respectful listening to each other can truly transform lives. It has for over ten years now. Truth Be Told is a non-profit that walks its talk. I'm honored to be one of their volunteers.
I was a happy middle class church lady, but fearful of those who had suffered hard lives. When I came to prison to teach women speaking skills, so they could help juveniles and other women not follow in their footprints, I experienced an entirely new level of community that changed my life. All women need tools of creativity to deal with emotions, so they don't get self-destructive or destructive to others ... and communication skills so others will be able to understand and hear them ... and community building skills so they can become safe for others who share their deeper values and choose others who will not play victim/persecutor/rescuer games with them when they are most vulnerable. Inmates or not, most of us have imprisoned ourselves or been imprisoned by unhealthy patterns from the past. I LOVE being a compassionate listener to their stories, their awakening and strengthening, and a respectful witness to this mostly invisible population of wounded women. Truth be Told is doing powerful and needed work.
As a volunteer facilitator for Truth Be Told, I help the incarcerated women of Hilltop Prison in Gatesville, TX learn to tell the truth about the choices and decisions that brought them to prison and how to use that truth to create better lives for themselves and their families. When I describe what we accomplish in a 16 week program in a prison classroom it sounds impossible, but we do it, time and time again. It begins with a group of women of every age, socioeconomic, and educational background who have one thing in common – they don’t trust anyone. They have good reason not to. But within a few weeks of learning to tell and listen to each others life stories, they realize that they are listening to their own stories and they begin to connect with each other. They form a trusting community, a sisterhood of women who begin to take care of each other. That is the only way the difficult work that they take on can succeed – they create their own support system. The results are stunning. I use the word “transformation” sparingly, but I witness it over and over again as voiceless, invisible, and fearful women become confident, compelling, and compassionate individuals.
As a professional storyteller, I get to coach them as they bring their stories to life. These are rough stories, and these are tenacious women. They are also fragile, complicated, and curious. Once they have spoken out loud to others what they have been afraid to admit silently to themselves, we guide them along a new path where they can take those first steps into finding out what comes next. Activities and exercises focus on discovering untapped sources of creative expression through essays, poetry, the visual arts, and movement.
To be able to share my lifetime of experience in the creative process with this community of women is an honor and a blessing. I receive from each of them more than I can possibly give. The truth is that the hours I spend with The Women of Hilltop are the most fulfilling hours of my week. When the 16 week program ends, I know that these women have learned valuable lessons - how to reach out to each other and get through the dark times by sharing their light, their joy, and their laughter. This is why Truth Be Told is my favorite non-profit.
I first learned about Truth Be Told back in 2002, and I did some volunteer work. After it became a nonprofit, I was on the board for a couple of years. I still volunteer with the blog and social media. I am \ hooked on volunteering with Truth Be Told because it touches the lives of people who are invisible and neglected in our society, who are so grateful for attention. Truth Be Told helps women in prison and after they get out. They learn to tell/write/move their stories and gain resources to create better futures for themselves. Respectful listening is a key skill they learn in the Truth Be Told classes, and many have never really been listened to before, and they begin to find their voices. I've been to numerous graduations in the prison and every single time, I am moved to tears by the stories they tell of how they got there, told straight up. It's raw and real. You make a huge difference volunteering with Truth Be Told, and there are many ways to help.
Helping people "find their voice"is one of the empowering things any of us can do for another. That is especially true for people who have become marginalized from the main stream of society. Finding one's voice gives confidence, changes self-image, puts a person in touch with a purpose for living. I do not know of a better program than Truth Be Told for doing this uplifting and life-changing work. I am deeply impressed by the work being done; it is literally salvaging people's lives. More power to them!
You can read about Truth Be Told here: www.truth-be-told.org. I've been volunteering for Truth Be Told since 2009. It began with my attending a graduation at Lockhart prison, where I witnessed female inmates bravely sharing their stories (their truths) about what led them to prison -- not the crime, per say, but the much bigger, deeper picture that his nonprofit program asks incarcerated females to explore: Looking back on your entire life, what are the decisions you have made (that you are accountable for) and the experiences you have had (that you are not responsible for) that slowly, but steadily, led you to where you are today, which is behind bars? Their stories were raw, disturbing, heartbreaking, honest, humble, accountable, eye-opening and a game-changer for me. I no longer saw these women as criminals and inmates, but as broken human beings. To someone out there, these women were grandmothers, mothers, sisters, daughters and friends -- and somewhere along the way, most all of them had suffered by the hands of others first and then chosen to make decisions that would cause suffering for themselves and for others. I heard somewhere that "Hurt people hurt people, and healed people heal people." I couldn't agree more. Truth Be Told offers programming to women behind bars that evokes healing, self-understanding and self-acceptance, so that this invisible and broken population can love and forgive themselves first and then learn to love, forgive and have compassion for others. Every class we offer in prison promotes the 4 Cs: Community building, Creativity, Caring for self and Communication skills. Through a variety of methods that include creative writing, public speaking and movement, we offer opportunities for self-discovery, self-expression, truth-telling and trust-building. We are not a religious organization; we embrace all walks of faith and even those who have little or no faith. One reoccurring theme that seems to come out of these classes every semester is the new awareness that "I am not alone." It's a simple thought, but it can feel like a tremendous burden has been lifted off one's shoulders when she has been walking through life feeling like no one could possibly ever understand her or care about her anymore. We operate on a shoestring budget like most nonprofits. All our classes are facilitated by volunteers. This work is not only transformational for the women behind bars, but the women beyond bars who are dedicating their time and energy to shine light on a population of women forgotten by many. Personally, I find it difficult to point the finger anymore at where the "evil" begins. I just know that I want the healing to begin so that the cycle of crime, suffering, violence and desperation can be broken.
I’ve been volunteering with Truth be Told for about two years now. I teach a curriculum designed for a jail setting where there is a lot of turnover. The women aren’t with us long enough to go through a full curriculum and graduate so we do what we can while the women are in class.
When friends and family ask how I feel about the women, I tell them I feel great compassion for them. Some wonder about this compassion, after all, these women have allegedly committed crimes, but I look at if differently. I think we should ask ourselves if we would have done any better if we had grown up in the same conditions as these women. Instead of looking down on them we should remind ourselves that most volunteers have not experienced the amount of sexual assault, rejection, violence, or seen the heavy drug use that they have. Consider for a moment that many were innocent children who have been through hell and had nowhere to turn but to drugs or to people who led them into crime. This is where my compassion comes from.
For compassion to become transformation we must step into these uncomfortable relationships where there is great suffering. Maybe the time we take to listen and provide some tools will make the difference for just one person in the class. What a gift it would be to that person and the world.
I have volunteered for Truth Be Told (a transformational prison program) many times and am delighted with what happens with the inmates and with the volunteers - deep connection. Whether we are making art, dancing, talking, or sharing stories, the women are eager to tell their truth, sometimes for the first time. Their faces beam! They are so eager to be heard and to learn, and we volunteers always learn from them as well. I come away feeling pleased with the excellence of the program and with spending my time well.
As a volunteer for Truth be Told, I've frequently gone behind bars in women's prisons to give art and journaling workshops. The women give back to me a sense of community, support for one another and an impulse to grow and create. They are amazing! TBT helps women learn to express themselves in meaningful ways that aid heaing while incarcerated. The women continue to find TBR support after release. I am humbled and grateful to TBT for the opportunity to share, teach and learn from these women. Beverly Voss, LCSW
I first became aware of Truth Be Told, an organization that provides transformational programs for women behind and beyond bars in prison, through a good friend of mine who was involved. I then attended a graduation ceremony at Lockhart Prison in Texas, where women who had gone through a Truth Be Told class while incarcerated got up and shared their story. For many, it was the first time they had ever done so - and also the first time they had ever had anyone listen to them, respectfully. What I learned and felt there blew me away. I went in expecting not to identify with these women at all - and then I realized that I could be any of them! They were not so different from me, and I thought they were the bravest women I had ever met. The work that Truth Be Told does to help these women behind bars find their own truths, face their life's journey and use it to empower themselves and their futures, is truly inspirational.
Review from Guidestar