Gordon Philanthropies (GP) and Century Regional Detention Facility Provide the true meaning of Christmas to the children of Incarcerated Mothers.
In partnership with Century Regional Detention Facility (CRDF), Education Based Incarceration and Gender Responsive Services, GP hosted an event during which volunteers helped incarcerated women record a reading of a book for their children. The book, Besos de Sol, Abrasos de Luna (Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs), by Susan Schaefer Bernardo, was sent home to the child along with a personal letter and the recording, so that the mother’s love could reach the heart of her child and confirm that they are loved.
“It is not the norm for most of them to pick up a children’s book, so it was a heartfelt experience,” said EBI’s Officer Haley-Graham, who assisted with the reading/audio recordings of incarcerated mothers.
GP Program Director, Sylvia Beanes, said, “When the first young woman walked into the room, she greeted me kindly. I explained what we were about to do and tears streamed down her face. This made my heart ache, as I could feel her love for her kids in every breath she exhaled as she read the book. I saw the pain in her eyes and understood just how much she missed her kids.” This same scenario repeated with each woman the volunteers recorded.
This experience was the best way to start one of the most beautiful holiday traditions in many parts of the world: the Spirit of Christmas. The volunteers and staff from GP treated each recording like gold and ensured the children receive their letter and recording from their mother or grandmother before Christmas.
The best reward for GP’s staff and volunteers can be summed up in a letter received by a mother caring for her granddaughter:
First and foremost, I am humbled to receive this precious bilingual book and the recording that I will be presenting to my granddaughter for Christmas. We received the package in our mailbox today.
We were hit with a tragic event during the first of this year that caused my daughter to be incarcerated due to her mental health. While we are fighting for her freedom, we are astonished by your kindness and by what you are doing through your foundation for women who are incarcerated. It breaks my heart that the women who are incarcerated are already struggling being in there in addition to having no access to their children.
On a positive note, I am blessed that the women in jail, including my daughter, have resources like yours to bring a smile to the faces of their children, who can hear their mothers’ voices through a recording.
Again, I want to express how thankful our family is for your generosity and extended kindness. I cannot wait to see my granddaughter’s face when she hears her mom’s voice reading the book. I was in tears while reading the book and listening to my daughter’s voice. They were happy tears over the fact that something like this existed and was a brilliant idea.
Thank you again. Sending light, love, grace, and God’s blessing to you and your staff.
“It is a great honor to stand in partnership with CRDF, Education Based Incarceration and Gender Responsive Services. The tireless work to support incarcerated women day in and day out is a necessity. There are children whose parents will be missing at the dinner table this Christmas due to incarceration. We feel a responsibility to support the bond between a parent and child, through the power of reading, and treat it as sacred,” explained Daniel Gordon, Chairman and Founder of Gordon Philanthropies.
Recent estimates show that 2.7 million US children have a parent who is incarcerated.