I drove up to the prison (or I think the most correct terminology right now is “institution”) a couple weeks ago for my monthly meeting with Jade. It’s the same drill every time. You wait for the guard to let you in to the office, you sign in, hand over your ID, lock up your belongings, sometimes there is random checks/inspections, they call to another guard to advise the inmate that their visitor is there. You sit down in the office and wait until the person you are going to see is in the visitors room and then you go through the scanner, get buzzed in the doors (x2) and then you enter a quaint room where everyone in visiting. There are people, young and old, some bring children, games line one wall along with a small play kitchen and a vending machine.
Jade was sitting at one of the tables with a smile on her face, and she asked if I want to play Jenga. We’ve never played a game before on our visits as we get right down to business (talking, sharing, and often laughing) but I know the power of having a fun game going on while having a meaningful conversation. (It’s a great physical distraction to let the mind and feelings express themselves)
Within my 2 hour visit with Jade we played 4 games of Jenga and a game of scrabble (I have to admit it’s my favourite game and Jade stated she thought I played too much… too many strategic moves…ha!) We talked about what has been going on since the last time I’ve seen her.
In the middle of one of the games though, Jade stopped, looked at me, and stated she wanted to let me know she was really serious about doing things different when she got out. That she wanted to start telling her story and talking to others about the things she’s learnt and wanted help out with the Passion Foundation. I saw something different in her. A real sense of confidence, faith, and determination. And I told her that I believed her more than I ever had before. She asked if I havent believed her before. I told her I had but there was something different when she said it this time. She smiled, ‘ Huh, I think I’m really ready but I need supports when I get out of here.’
My goal is to do as much as possible to support Jade but the fact is she’ll also need to find other people who are positive role models in her life with alot of structure. She is looking at her plan for the first 6 months of release. She needs an extremely strong network/community around her.
Jade’s release will most likely be in February and we are working on a plan. Part of that plan is employment, education, volunteer work, and support meetings. (The Passion Foundation would hire Jade in a heart beat but we aren’t in a financial position right now to do this my hope is one day we will be.)
Here is Jade’s blog for this month:
” Life really tests you with your struggle’s. In the past couple weeks I’ve had many encounters where I’ve struggles to do the right thing. Arguments with peers, disagreements with staff, inner conflicts just when things get good. It gets tough faster. I will not give up though I’ve learnt over the past couple years of being in jail that life is hard and something you always have to work at, but it’s worth it. The outcome is much more satisfying than drugs, bad choices, and the things that we are comfortable doing (such as old behaviours). I love life, more than I ever have, and I’m thankful every day that I got a second change at it. Stay strong people, because if someone like me who has lived in hell could gain such happiness, you can too! Dont’ forget that.”
If you haven’t read Jade’s story please go here
Until next time
Loretta Cella, Founder/ ED-Passion Foundation