Women2Women - Winter 2018 - 7
Q. What are some reasons other people
give for wanting to help female inmates?
A. I read a lot of journal articles and talked
to a lot of people about the need for such
a facility in our area. I also visited "homes"
with similar concepts in Pennsylvania and
New York and Delaware. The Marian
House in Delaware was especially helpful
in providing information that gave me
good insight into what our facility should
look like including resident handbooks
and procedure manuals. These documents
helped save us a lot of time, too.
A. Everyone deserves a second chance.
The women we minister to really want
to change; they want another chance.
Many times they are undereducated, lack
skills, and have no outside support. Some
are intelligent and hold degrees but are
addicts and that got them into trouble. I
think we can all relate to them in a way
and many of us have family members
or friends we would have liked to have
helped along the way.
Q. What has been the most difficult part
of this process?
A. There have been a few obstacles, like
Q. What is next?
A. Our first inmate arrived in June. We
the building we occupy. We are currently
leasing it; however, it is for sale. Our plan
is to secure funds to purchase it, and we
are looking at various revenue streams to
make it happen.
Q. What have you been most pleasantly
surprised about during the process?
A. When you are "on a mission," doors open quickly! There has
been overwhelming generosity and support from the community,
our churches, and our area businesses. They realized this kind of
facility was needed in our community and came forward. They have
donated time, skills, and funds to make it a reality. When you are
working on a true vocation, a true mission, people show up in your
life to make it happen. They bring the spirit of God to help others.
The mission becomes contagious!
Q. What skills from your previous careers have you used as Founder
of Clare House?
A. Leadership, delegation, collaboration, commitment, flexibility, ability
to recognize strengths and talents in others and tapping into that. I don't
have to know everything; other people have gifts, talents and skills I can
tap into and they are willing to share. That inspires me to motivate them!
Q. What is your definition of personal SUCCESS for this project?
A. I feel I have already achieved success because I took an idea and
brought it to fruition. Early on, I thought about future and success
and I decided I wasn't afraid to try something new. I never saw it as
a possible failure. I knew I would never know unless I tried!
Q. What is most misunderstood about women in prisons or coming
out of prisons?
A. Why they were there in the first place. Obviously, there are
women in prison who deserve to be there. But many of them live
in poverty and they are there because they cannot pay child support.
Some are there for probation violations, domestic violence situations,
and even trauma situations for which they were unable to get help
for and in the end led to problems like drug and alcohol abuse and
Q. Once "called," how did you first initiate
the Clare of Assisi project?
are interviewing for more as we currently
have six rooms available, soon to be twelve.
Clare House will house each individual for
a period of 12-15 months. Again, these
women are non-violent and are homeless.
They have no place to go. Now, they can
have a home with the support they need
to live a worthy life outside of prison walls.
Self-sufficiency for each resident coming out of transitional housing
relies on many moving parts; thus, short term goals for the Clare of
Assisi Home are many! The first goal, of course, is to provide a safe
residential environment. Other goals also include helping residents
get access to public and faith-based services for basic necessities,
as well as providing training and skills from financial literacy to
addictions support to general life skills. Supporting residents in
finding employment, giving them a sense of personal accountability
and helping to build community and family relationships are also
important objectives of the program.
Long-term goals for the program include a reduction of recidivism,
crime, and victimization. A reduction in law enforcement, court,
and incarceration costs, and a reduction on the reliance on state and
county social service programs would also be objectives by which
everyone could benefit.
The story of Robin Bell's career, educational and volunteer choices,
and finally, her calling to do something totally outside of the box
is awe-inspiring! It is yet another shining example of what one very
receptive, resourceful person with a "can do" attitude can accomplish
when supported by an army of giving, compassionate volunteers on a
mission to help better the lives of others...needing that second chance.
MORE INFORMATION AT:
Clare of Assisi House
325 South 12th Street, Reading, PA 19602
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Women2Women - Winter 2018
Women2Women - Winter 2018 - 1
Women2Women - Winter 2018 - 2
Women2Women - Winter 2018 - 3
Women2Women - Winter 2018 - 4
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