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Awakening Through Truth Be Told

Truth Be Told facilitator Katie was invited to speak at the Annual Fundraiser Luncheon in October, 2011. Here is what she had to say about her phenomenal experience as a volunteer facilitator with the non-profit organization:

Our executive director, Shannon Holtzendorf, asked me to stand up here today and talk about how my experience as a Truth Be Told class facilitator has changed me. As I thought about what I wanted to say, I realized that the word change didn’t really fit. My journey with Truth Be Told has been more like an awakening. This organization – the women who volunteer alongside me and the women who enter my classes each semester — have helped bring out the potential that has always been within me, but had remained dormant until now.

My journey with Truth Be Told has been a series of turning points in which others have recognized something in me that I couldn’t see and created opportunities for me to step forward, find my voice and shine. All I ever brought to the table from the very beginning was a genuine desire to work toward a greater good. I also felt strongly that I wanted to interact directly with those in need.

In the fall of 2008, I attended my first Truth Be Told graduation as a volunteer audience member. I was so impressed with the work this organization was doing that I told Shannon I’d like to volunteer my services as a writer and editor – did they need help with their website or a brochure? Well, they didn’t need help with those things, but Shannon called me a few weeks later and asked if I’d like to teach a creative writing workshop – just one afternoon for two hours, whatever I wanted to teach.

Never in a million years did I see myself leading a writing workshop in a prison (I’d never even taught before), but Shannon seemed so certain that I had something to offer – and I trusted that and I said yes. I cobbled together a lesson plan and I went into that prison and I taught that workshop.  And let me tell you – the women were so responsive. The energy in that classroom was palpable – there was a hunger to do differently, to do better, to self-discover. I was hooked. I wanted to find a way to teach again. I thought perhaps it would be another workshop some day.

Nathalie Sorrell, left, and Katie at the TBT Luncheon

But Nathalie Sorrell – a co-founder of Truth Be Told – had bigger ideas. She heard about my experience leading the workshop and said, “I don’t know if you have the interest level or the time, but what if you trained to be a class facilitator with Truth Be Told?”

Never in a million years did I see myself as capable or qualified to lead a semester of classes behind bars, but here was this opportunity and Nathalie believed in me. And I trusted that and I said yes.

Two semesters into my facilitating, Nathalie and Carol Waid (Truth Be Told’s other co-founder) were invited by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to expand the program to the Hilltop unit in Gatesville. They needed someone to step up and run the program at Lockhart. They turned to me.

Never in million years did I see myself capable or qualified to oversee a program for incarcerated women, but here was this opportunity and they believed in me. And I trusted that and I said yes.

So now I stand before you, a Talk to Me class facilitator and a behind bars program coordinator. My experience with Truth Be Told has awakened in me a teacher, a leader, a diplomat, a moderator, a respectful listener — a wiser woman.

But this is par for the course for Truth Be Told. That’s what this program does.

It awakens the good stuff in people. It breaks down the walls, casts aside the doubts, looks directly in the face of denial and awakens the best in us.

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4 responses »

  1. Pingback: 8th Annual Fundraiser: RSVP now for a night of inspiring storytelling and community « Truth Be Told

  2. Pingback: Truth Be Told Graduations and Annual Fundraiser « Truth Be Told

  3. Petra, it’s with tear filled eyes that I read your comments and with all my heart want to wish you well. I have the honor and privilege of volunteering to type and print the graduation certificates from each of the Truth Be Told Classes. I felt so much gratitude to be able to help in this small way and hope that each time you look at your certificates you will be reminded of the hard work and dedication it took on your part to complete these life changing classes. You are a true Princess Warrior, yes indeed you are. I hope and pray that you continue to testify of your experiences in life so that they might be of help to others. I pray God’s guidance in your journey and His peace, hope, courage and love to help you continue on your positive path. I’m truly blessed to have read your testimony today and will carry it with me in my heart.

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  4. Behind n Beyond Bars with Truth Be Told, Hmm, how about ” In and Beyond Truth Be Told” program?? I have had the awesome privilage to have been at one time a member and grateful participant of this wonderful, unique program. While “In” this program I learned of valuable tools which one day would be of great importance in my troublesome and lonely life. The knowledge of this tools was passed down to me by considerate, loveable and dedicated strong women who call it a joy to teach and work with indivials like myself. I had never had the opportunity or chance to be surrounded in “lovable patience”. Maybe I should say circled in “Gods Blessing”. This program helped me see the meaning of real talk “TRUTH”. Truth I had bottled up within my heart and most important my soul which lives on beyond death, in which death I would have continued to carry heavyly had I not unburdened through this spiritual side of the program. The “Beyond” part of which I mentioned no one knows about except such individual as myself who has experienced first hand the agony of humiliation and defeat. The downfall of letting go of such a wonderful blessing only to return to the slums of addiction. My life has been a lonesome one which not many care to share with others. I share the BEYOND part because I want the ladies who work, teach and volunteer for TBT to know they have left something in my heart. Even after my great downfalls I continue to work with whats left, get up and try again. I relearn what I was once taught by them and give it another shot with renewed spirits and optimism. I want them to know from the bottom of my heart their lovable patient mentoring and teaching has not been in vain..So “yes”, why not, In and Beyond “Truth be Told”?? I now have been released after 18years of high supervision parole. I have completed my entire sentenced and after a firm hand shake my parole officer wished me the best and printed out my long,long awaited “Completion of Parole Certificate”. I will now continue with what the “GOD” of my steps has for me and will always testify of my experience with TBT . You “ALL” are awesome the program is awesome and your heart is awesome. Special thanks to Carol Waid, Sammie Seal, Hope, Nathalie and Jim, Peggy,Peg, and all the rest new and old schools! Love you, God bless you and the program. Always a Princess Warrior, Petra Montoya

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