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Archive for June, 2011

Our little grass roots organization started in 2009 when I was released from prison. Gina’s parents Chris and Diane waited for my release to start Gina’s Team, the dream we shared after Gina’s death in 2003. Thanks to the kindness and shared passion of others, the dream has grown and flourished. Our belief that “Education, not incarceration, is the cheapest form of crime prevention” is taking hold and we are grateful for our board, our advisory board and all our volunteers. YOU make a difference.

Recently I got a call from Channel 3, Arizona’s Family. They were interested in doing a story. I was thrilled to be able to shine some attention on all the volunteers who work to make our dream a reality. Thanks to Channel 3 and Brandy for creating such a terrific message for us. Here is the link to the story.

http://www.azfamily.com/news/Ginas-Team-122374394.html

To add to our celebration, we have a new logo, thanks to the brilliant and creative AlexLadinsinsky.

   GT Logo

Unfortunately I don’t know how to wave the magic blog wand and poof the real picture into my blog like the rest of my blogger friends do. You’ll have to click on the pdf  file to open it and hopefully oooh and ahhh. We really like it. Gina’s favorite flower was the sunflower. This represents hope behind the wires with the leaf growing through the wire in spite of everything. We are ever hopeful.

May you never lose hope and continue to make a positive difference in the worl…inside or out. Let me know how your passion is manifesting as you make a difference. Thanks.

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Vanity prevents me from posting a picture of me, exhausted and feeling guilty because I haven’t written in my blog since May 9.  So why didn’t I? Purpose and passion in the name ofGina’s Team. Our little grass roots organization is growing faster than the oncoming bullet train. I am sure Gina is leading a team of angels to provide the miracles that come our way.

I decided the best thing would be to share our activities and the amazing people who are helping us so here is an encapsulated version with a picture of our team: 

 

 

 

 

Perryville Prison. April program: Control, Assault, Delete, a powerful play on domestic violence by Linda & John King. Please check out their website http://www.helpfixthehurt.org/  These two incredibly brave parents lost their beautiful daughter to a brutal act of domestic violence. They have turned their pain into power, impacting lives with their passion to help others. 

Mingus Mountain Academy.  April program: Olympic Gold Medalist Misty Hyman went up the mountain with us to speak to these 12 to 18 year old girls about the importance of setting goals as they rebuild their lives. Mistyand her Valley Leadership cohort presented each girl with a journal to record her goals. Arizona’s Family Channel 3 accompanied us to film a story on Gina’s Team and our activities. http://www.azfamily.com/news/Ginas-Team-122374394.html  Thanks, Channel 3, Brandy and Mike for such a positive story.

Mingus. May program:  Author and speaker Vickie Mullins spoke to the girls about rebuilding lives with positve memories. Through the generosity of Mingus and Vickie, each girl received a copy of Vickie’s book, I Want You To Know Me…Love, Me. Her website, http://iwantyoutoknowme.com/, explains who the death of a young friend provided  the inspiration behind this book that has impacted so many lives. You may want a copy yourself for someone you love. 

Estrella Jail program: Gina’s Team has made two trips to the jail to visit some of the women there with a positive message of hope. We are grateful for the opportunity. 

ASU students from a class in the College of Social Transformation held two very successful events to promote awareness about incarceration in America. Gina’s Team worked with them the entire semester to formulate these successful events. We are so impressed with their desire to impact change in their communities. This is a powerful generation. 

Gina’s Team partnered with the National Advocacy and Training Network   (http://www.natn-az.com/home) to train volunteers for our new program called Welcome Home, designed to assist women newly released from prison as they seek to successfully reenter our communities. We are blessed with a group of enthusiastic and deeply committed volunteers. 

Gina’s Team has been involved in several events at the ASU Art Museum’s recent art experience about incarceration entitled “It’s Not Just Black & White.” http://asuartmuseum.asu.edu/exhibitions/viewevent.php?eid=824  After a  powerful three month long event, we were crushed to see the black and white stripes disappear and the wall come down in May. Gregory Sale’s vision cast a spotlight on incarceration in a unique and meaningful way. 

After nine months of class, I was part of the graduating class of the ASU GenNext Nonprofit Academy. Thanks to ASU for awarding me a scholarship to be a part of this incredible experience. In prison I missed the opportunity for the intellectual challenge that ASU provides in so many ways to our community. Budget cuts to education are a serious mistake in our state. 

After a great deal of dreaming and planning, Gina’s Team has received permission from the Department of Corrections to start several new programs inside the prisons. 

1. Kingian Nonviolence. Behind the wires violence is too often a way of life. We are introducing this course to the teens in the minor’s unit in Tucson.  We are grateful for this opportunity to teach young men an alternative to violence. http://phoenixnonviolence.org/ 

 2. ATHENA Leadership. Martha Mertz, author of Becoming Athena and founder of the internationally acclaimed Athena International  award (http://www.athenainternational.org/) is taking her expertise behind the wires to Perryville. After speaking there in December, she realized this was a place that would benefit from the eight principle of leadership highlighted in her book. These eight principles are simple rules for living.  They are:

Live Authentically                   Learn Constantly                             Advocate Fiercely

Act Courageously                    Foster Collaboration                       Build relationships

Give Back                                       Celebrate

Gina’s Team is proud to bring Martha and her wisdom to the women of Perryville. 

3. Parenting. Many of the women at Perryville are mothers who miss their children desperately. Learning to be a better parent is a key to successful reentry and reconciliation. Gina’s Team is bringing Parenting Arizona to Perryville to teach classes in this important life skill. 

We are also partnering with Jeanne Robinson and Jessica’s Operation Orange to bring precious books to all the prisons in AZ as well as more juvenile facilities. Please check out www.jessicasoperationorange.com for information about how one all too common mistake can change so many lives. The inspiration lies in how Jessica and her parents have turned their pain into power, helping others through her tragedy. Jessica’s mother  Jeanne  is a force of nature, impacting lives in such positive ways. 

Turn your pain into power. That’s what all this is about. I know that we are alive to help others. The best way is through the wisdom we gain when we survive a tragedy. That’s what my motto is all about. 

                                Been there. Done that. Now how can I help? 

Find your passion and  purpose. It will enrich your life in ways you cannot imagine. I promise.

 

 

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