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.
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.