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Review for Truth Be Told, Austin, TX, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

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.

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Role:  Volunteer