Thank you to everyone…
Yesterday was the final installment of our Father’s Day events for Get On The Bus this year. We had events at three men’s prisons: Correctional Training Facility (CTF) and Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad (SVSP) and California State Prison in Solano (CSP). I had the great opportunity to be on the ground at both the CTF and SVSP events, which were truly amazing. The families and the men were so grateful, both staffs were incredible and the volunteers were so dedicated. I can’t tell you how wonderful the day was for me. No one could write that good of a script, except for maybe Joe ;p.
It is impossible to capture all the stories of the day; however, I want to highlight two very different reunions that happened almost simultaneously at CTF and SVSP. I could hardly sleep the night before Get On The Bus because I was filled with excitement knowing that these two reunions were about to occur.
The first is the happy ending for Genisse. This is the woman who I wrote about on 1/23/10 who had been searching for her father Gregory for 30 years. With lots of coordination and help from our wonderful Northern California bus coordinators Cathy and John, Genisse flew in to California the morning of Get On The Bus to meet her dad for the first time. She had never traveled anywhere by herself. She arrived at 2:45 am to her hotel in San Francisco, which she wasn’t scheduled to check into until after the event. Without any sleep and no room, the hotel clerk asked her what she was doing in San Francisco up at that hour of the morning. She told him her story and he immediately made arrangements to get her a room so that she could take a quick shower before she met the bus.
I got a chance to meet both Genisse and her father in person and what she said in the interview is very true: Not only do they look alike, but for two people who haven’t spent any time together, their mannerisms are uncanny. When I walked into the visiting room, I immediately gravitated toward them. It is hard to explain but they both have this very warm, gentle spirit about them and they are always smiling. As soon as Jennifer and I walked up to their table, they seemed to know who we were and we seemed to know who they were without even having to introduce ourselves.
I can honestly say, I have never seen two people happier to be together than the two of them. Genisse was smiling ear-to-ear and her father could not stop holding onto her. Gregory then told me with tears in his eyes, “I can not express his gratitude for what has been done today to bring his Genisse to me. The kindness that has been expressed to my family through you and Jennifer and the volunteers is incredible. To go so far to say that you made my day is not enough. You truly made my life and you both have become my part of my family.”
Jennifer and I had to hold back our own tears as we were clearly touched by this reunion. Below is the photo we took with Genisse and Gregory.
The second was the story of a little boy who was visiting his father at SVSP for the first time in 3 years. This story and the photos are care of Karen Plante and Kelly Garrison. I was so moved by this photo sequence that I had to share them.
Since he has been 2 years old he has only been able to see his dad only behind a glass partition with a phone. This is the first time he has gotten to see and hug his daddy since he was two. He had a calendar at home and was crossing off the days until this trip.