Believe in yourself and what you are doing and you will go far in life…
In 2005 I was in college for Corrections. I never dreamed of working as a prison guard like the degree is usually used for. I dreamed of working in programs to help rehabilitate offenders. I always wanted to help. In my last year of college I did two placements that forever changed my life and the way I view offenders.
My first placement was with Canadian Families and Corrections Network. I was able to go into the federal prisons in the Kingston area. I got to experience how visitors enter to visit, including the process of being searched. I was okay with this until you can’t touch the search dog. But the dog was always so darn handsome. I was able to be a part of family visitation days. I would join in the visiting areas by the inmates and family members. I would meet with families who were faced with the most unimaginable futures. I was lucky enough to be able to experience family days and see the love. I helped with the children’s programs. I met so many sweet children who made me some of the most amazing art. I was able to see how inmates are placed upon arrival and the programs available to them from schooling to drugs and alcohol programs. This was an eye opening experience to say the least.
My second placement was at a place called Bridge House. The house was for families of inmates. It has since closed down but it was a non-profit, government home that was around for more than twenty years. It was founded by a federal inmate’s wife who saw the need for support and affordable accommodations. The cost per night in 2005 I believe was $15.00. The kitchen you soon understood was the heart of the home. The visitors, staff and women of the community came together and shared meals and stories. I had great conversations and tears with some of the most amazing women I have met to date. I even learned how to cook a few meals. The guests at Bridge House could make local phone calls and receive collect calls from the prisons. It also offered transportation to the prisons in the area. It was a much needed service and after its closure was greatly missed. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to have my placement here. I saw the need for this house.
While doing this placement I met a lady who I clicked with instantly. I ended up helping her relocate to Kingston. She allowed me to help with her prison wedding. I got to know her and always looked forward to our time together. She made my days brighter. When she left Bridge House I broke some rules and hid a gift for her because deep in my heart I knew it was the last time I would see her. She hid a notebook for me which was purple butterflies, my absolute favourite. I would like to share the note she wrote to me. It’s one I read often and I wish I knew where she was today!
“Dear Sascha, Just a little thank you for helping me. It’s been a pleasure being with you. Your light humour is wonderful and it helped me through some rough days. Much thanks!
“Now listen up here” ha ha Ok a few more ha has is always good!
Believe in yourself and what you are doing and you will go far in this life. I told you from the first time we talked that you were special and guess what? You still are. The skies the limit for you. Take what you can get from it and go for it.
All the best to you, the future looks bright and sunny for you. It’s yours for the taking.”
She had such beautiful penmanship. She then signed the letter and disappeared. This letter has survived 15 years with me through every move I have made. I think of all the laughs we shared. She also had an amazing sense of humour. We shared so many laughs and a few tears. Her life story was inspiring and I am honoured she shared it with me. She always used to say to me “now listen up here” and when I read that I can hear her voice and see her face, forever frozen in my memory. I cherish how kind she and her husband were to me. I never met him but he always used to chat when he called. She believed in me way before I believed in myself and I wish I could give her a big hug and say thank you! You forever changed my life in the most positive ways and 15 years later I still think of you. I hope you are doing fabulous!
Recently I made a list of all the positive people who changed my life and you were right there at the top. Not everyone on my list is still in my life but for those times we shared and your inspiring messages thank you. I am such a lucky woman!
Be kind with your words you never know who will hold onto them. Tell people how much you love them. Life is wild you may never get another chance. Today is your day!