A little bit of love goes a long way…

Each year at California Men’s Colony (CMC), we go inside and meet with the dads a couple of times before the event.  The first time we introduce the program and disperse applications and then second time, we share event details, get further contact information for the families (if needed) and answer questions.  These days are always the perfect combination of utter exhilaration and exhaustion.  However, I have to admit, I never walk away feeling anything less than a sense of accomplishment and pure joy about what I do.  Yesterday was no exception. 
With the help of our wonderful staff in SLO Sr. Theresa Harpin and Cece Lane and the CMC Administration, we were able to bring 40 volunteers into CMC yesterday to meet with almost 400 men.  Now, this is no small feat.
Not only is dealing with clearances, event day details and moving bodies around the institution a logistical challenge for both our staff and the prison staff, but to top it off, we bring men together who aside from GOTB, do not get along.  They come from all walks of life, different races, religions and gangs. We as outsiders were in the midst of it all.  Needless to say, looking at the numbers, I was a little nervous. 
However, once my assistant Jennifer and I walked through the gates; I was assured that everything was going to be fine.  We were greeted by familiar and unfamiliar faces who just kept on saying “Thank you”.  We heard countless stories from men about how this program has changed their lives and the lives of their children.  We also heard a couple of first time GOTB participants talk about how excited they were to see their children after a number of years.  The entire day was a gamut of emotions not only for the men, but for us.
One emotion that prevailed for me was grace.  Grace came in the form of a powerful story that I would like to share with you about my friend Lauren.  Last year right around our Father’s Day Event, we were a little short on volunteers to escort the children.  Out of desperation, I called in a favor to my dear friend Lauren.  She escorted two little ones Kiki and Tereon who hadn’t seen their father Joel in years. 

As always, Lauren puts a 150% effort into everything that she does and the kids absolutely took to her.  They had a great bus ride up to CMC.  Once they got inside the prison, she spent the day assisting Joel with the kids whenever he needed it.  She felt mostly like a fly on the wall.  She helped the kids when they needed to go to the bathroom, helped to get them some lunch and to clean them up afterwards.  She did whatever she could do, but she didn’t feel like she did anything out of the ordinary.
When Joel stepped into my makeshift office yesterday, he told me that he needed to tell me about a very special volunteer that GOTB had.  He said, “She was an angel that brought my kids to see me after 2 years.  She helped me so much even when I didn’t know what to do.  Her name was Lauren.  Do you know her?”  

I had to chuckle for a second.  “Know her, she is one of my best friends!”  

He proceeded to tell me, “She is a very special person.  She not only made my day, but she made my life. Please tell her that I say “Hello” and that I appreciated all that she did for my family that day and can I get her again this year?”  

On behalf of GOTB, I would like to thank all of our volunteers, especially Lauren.  It is the little things in life that make a big difference.  You all are making a big difference to the children we serve.  I would also like to extend a big note of thanks to our grant writer, Board member and my friend Kelly Kester-Smith for your kind donation.  I was so touched by your note. Only two more weeks everyone so keep that support coming!!! 🙂

1 Comment

  1. Darell Fedalen

    Sweet website , super layout, really clean and use friendly .


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