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.
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."
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.