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Keep on talking! A volunteer’s inspiration to do more helps women beyond bars adjust

thankyoucoffeeheartWhat can happen over a cup of coffee?

Pam Maulding, a long-time member of the Get Up and Go Toastmasters club, has been volunteering as a Toastmaster evaluator for Truth Be Told’s Talk to Me Speaking Class since early 2000. After attending a one-hour informational gathering called a BABB (Behind and Beyond Bars), Pam was inspired to do more, and she and Carol Waid spent an hour over coffee brainstorming some ways to help grow the Beyond Bars program.

One idea led to another and then an “aha” appeared: Pam saw how she could involve her Toastmaster community by asking them to share their talents with women who have been released from prison.

Pam said:

My mind whirled. How could I, with my current skills and experiences, best contribute to this facet of the program? You see, every time I go to the prisons to help the women grow as communicators, I have the intense desire to do something to help them never be in this place again! I truly believe that it is but by the grace of God that I am not one of them. Granted, life is about choices and decisions, and thus there are consequences. However, sometimes, people have no power (no skills and no community) in their lives to guide them to make correct decisions. So their lives take a very different path, one of no self-worth, one that is very destructive to themselves and anyone they come in contact with. And this can go on for generations!

What came out of that coffee conversation between Pam and Carol was a new Beyond Bars program called Keep on Talking Empowerment.

The vision for this new program is for the women to continue to grow and connect to the tools that they learned in Truth Be Told programs: the 4 Cs, which are Community Building, Communication Skills, Creativity, and Caring for Self.

Keep on Talking Empowerment helps women who are adjusting to life out of prison. Every week, women gather by conference call to help one another stay in community and to continue learning and practicing skills. A guest speaker talks for 7-10 minutes every other week, and there’s time to discuss the topic and work on goals and movement in the women’s lives.

One woman expressed her gratitude for the program, noting what a culture shock it is to be released. She said that it was like being thrown from a ship with no life raft and treading water alone in the ocean. She said setting goals could be overwhelming because there are so many things to do, such as parole visits, getting clothes, and even deciding where to live.

She said:

I learned a lot with y’all, but it seemed to dissipate when I got out because of the culture shock.

Keep on Talking hopes to help women stay connected and to continue to provide them with much needed support.

We will have our sixth call tonight.  In the last five weeks, we have had two guest speakers, and we will have our third speaker tonight.

Our first speaker, Sonya, shared Five Steps to Success. Her topic was inspirational and helpful.  We each shared the step that we had the greatest strength in and then shared about the one that we wanted to grow in.

The Five Steps to Success

  1. Become a superb communicator
  2. Honor your commitments
  3. Become an expert at what you do
  4. Have a great attitude
  5. Be a great teammate

Our second speaker, Nigel, shared the Five Characteristics of a Leader.  His topic was equally inspirational. He shared the following quote by Zig Ziglar:

You are what you are and you are where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You change what you are and you change where you are by changing what goes into your mind.

The Five Characteristics of a Leader

  1. Vision
  2. Passion
  3. Critical thinking
  4. Listening
  5. Commitment

Nigel ended his speech with this quote from Robert Greenleaf:

Good leaders must first become good servants.

If you are asking yourself how you can be involved with Truth Be Told, please email office@truth-be-told.org. We would love to hear your ideas. You never know what can happen over a cup of coffee!

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About MaryAnn Reynolds

Offering bodywork in the Austin, Texas, area at maryannreynolds.com. Blogging about wellness at The Well: bodymindheartspirit. Serving as a volunteer editor for the Truth Be Told Community blog.

2 responses »

  1. Thank you for the reminder to “honor your commitments.” We all need that reminder.

    Reply
  2. I love this. Thank you to Pam and Carol for kicking it off and to Sonya and Nigel for contributing your talent and time! More power to you all!

    Reply

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