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Honoring Francesca Wigle by Melissa Klein

“Going out to the jail was my favorite day of the week.”  – Francesca

Francesca began training me as a PEACE program facilitator in January.  From the minute I met her I knew she was a special person.  Her contagious smile, child-like spirit, and perpetual laughter stood out in the Travis County Jail like a snowy day in Texas. She greeted everyone like an old friend- the officers, security guards, and the mother’s with their little babies waiting on the visitor line.  Everyone she talked to smiled back- it seemed like they just couldn’t help it! With this attitude Francesca melted through layers of sadness, resignation, boredom and frustration that marked so many of the faces as we walked toward 12A where the maximum security women waited for our class.  It was such a joy to watch her seamlessly weave together the day’s topic with personal insights, while leaving space for the ladies to reflect and express their own original thoughts and feelings.  Francesca’s unique way of getting through to people allowed her access to those women’s hearts in a way that was meaningful, moving and inspiring.  I believe she has made a lasting impact on those women.  I hope I can carry on her legacy by bringing laughter, joy, creativity and insight into the jail to help illuminate the most difficult of circumstances. Francesca
(Left to right: Carol Waid; Jennifer Scott, Social Services Program Coordinator at TCSO; Francesca Wigle; B. Gentle, Volunteer Coordinator at TCSO; and Melissa Klein)

Note: Francesca began volunteering with Truth Be Told in 2011 and then assumed the lead role as facilitator for the PEACE program at TCCC. She quickly became a donor as well, thereby supporting the organization in numerous ways. Francesca was 1 of 5 nominees to receive a certificate and acknowledgment for her work at Travis County Sheriff Office (TSCO) during its Volunteer Appreciation event. We will miss her greatly and hope that she will carry on her legacy in El Paso.

The nomination read: “It is rare to meet a person who spreads their light and love with every person they encounter. In 2013 I met a person I just described. I knew right away that Francesca Wigle was a very special soul. She brings with her a joy that is contagious to the women. The women feel her non-judgment, her caring and her genuine interest in their lives. Unfortunately for the sheriff’s office, Francesca is ending her time here. She will be missed incredibly.”

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One response »

  1. I loved Melissa’s description of Francesca. Though I have never had the opportunity to see her teach a prison class — I do remember the first time I met her in a circle of women at St Hildegaard’s. Her radiance then was lighting up the room, and I don’t believe I have ever seen her since without that glowing smile. Like Melissa, I can’t help but believe that the women whose lives were brightened by knowing they had a Pride Class to attend will be forever warmed by memories of that darling white-braided woman who facilitated them with love and compassion.

    But Melissa – you too have something to offer that no-one else does. How incredibly blessed Truth be Told is to have your vibrant, young but mature commitment and musical talent and fresh energy to carry on the work Francesca is passing on to you. The best way to thank her is to show up and grow (as she did) in wisdom and experience. Then you will be able to train someone else to co-lead or take over, depending on what your next steps will be. We’re so lucky to have remarkable women of every age and stage of life who are willing to have their lives changed by the gift and responsibility of reaffirming the value of each incarcerated woman who shows up for class. I’m proud to be a part of Truth be Told.

    Reply

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