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Posts Tagged ‘hidden faces of courage’

On Sunday my husband and I took in the painful stories of several formerly incarcerated women who work on getting their lives back on track with Mary Driscoll at OWLL. The occasion was the performance of a collaborative theater piece called Hidden Faces of Courage.

All the women had the cards stacked against them from childhood on and had little hope of a better future after serving time. A recurring theme was the near impossibility of finding work with a criminal record.

So it was with particular interest that I read an article in UU World today about a café in North Carolina that is giving such women a second chance at life, starting with helping them earn an income.

Michelle Bates Deakin writes, “There’s a classic Catch-22 for women who have served jail time. It’s nearly impossible to get a job with a criminal record, and without a job and an income, it’s hard to keep from reoffending.

“The Rev. Melissa Mummert, a community minister in Charlotte, N.C., has dedicated the past decade to helping solve this conundrum, providing career and life coaching to female prisoners …

“In August, she helped open a new takeout restaurant in downtown Charlotte run by women released from jail. Second Helping gives formerly incarcerated women valuable job skills, income, and new starts at life.

“ ‘I kept hearing the same theme from so many women: “When I hit the jail door, I can’t get a job, because there is so much employment discrimination against people with criminal records,” ‘ said Mummert. Second Helping helps women leaving jail or prison land that all-important first job.”

Monique Maddox is one of the beneficiaries of the effort. “Maddox has worked at Second Helping since November 2011, when it opened its first coffee cart. She credits Second Helping with giving her opportunity. ‘Each and every one of us value our freedom today,’ she said. ‘I would never give it up.’ ”

More.

Photo: UU World
Rev. Mummert helped open the Second Helping café in Charlotte. It employs and trains formerly incarcerated women.

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Hidden Faces of Courage, a “theater piece with music” created by Mary Driscoll in collaboration with formerly incarcerated women, is coming soon. I will write more after I have seen the production in November, but I need to alert you that if you want tickets, you might want to get them now as the performance space is rather small. Go to Fort Point Theatre Channel, here.

I met Mary in the playwriting class that I blogged about a few times. I didn’t continue with theater after the class, but Mary kept working at this play. She has a deep commitment to helping women who have been in prison, having worked with them for years at her nonprofit, OWLL (On With Living and Learning Inc.).

Mary writes: “The voices of previously incarcerated women are notably absent in the artistic world—a world that can engage a broader community in reform and foster greater understanding between the individual and diverse audiences. Sometimes in unexpected ways.”

Read more about her show at Broadway World, Boston, here.

Hidden Faces of Courage is directed by Tasia A. Jones, with music by Allyssa Jones, and runs November 8-10, 15-17,  at The Boiler Room, 50 Melcher Street, Fort Point, Boston.

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