Archive for April, 2012

Renee Morgan Brooks  is one of those rare and special human beings that brings light into any room when she enters. In her remarkable life, she has been many wonderful things, but mostly she has impacted the lives of others, inspiring them to greater things. Now she has made it official. She has graduated from ministerial school and is on the path to helping even more people in ways we cannot even imagine now.

It was Renee who invited Gina’s Team to Mingus Mountain Academy for the first time in February 2010 to celebrate Black History Month. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship with Mingus where we regularly present a motivational program  of guest speakers for the girls there.  Gina’s Team will always be grateful to Renee for including us on that initial trip.

Renee and I have been friends for over 20 years. I love her  both as a human being and an earthly angel. Many times we have laughed and cried together and now we celebrate her latest success in what I know will be more to come. Congratulations, my darling friend.

If you don’t know her or haven’t heard her perform, here is Renee with her compelling rendition of The Little Drummer Boy. I know it’s not December, but go with her while she takes you to the manger. It is one of the most powerful renditions I have ever heard. And while you are on Youtube,  look at her other performances. She is simply wonderful.

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We just came back from a free movie celebrating Earth Day. The film we saw was Tapped about the global threat to our drinking water. Consider that we pay more per gallon for bottled water than gasoline and no one complains. Most of the water is just local tap water that has been filtered. Bottled water is now an $8 billion business. Wow. I urge you to take advantage of Free Movies celebrating Earth Day at Harkins 7, Scottsdale Fashion Square, Saturday and Sunday. There are plenty of seats. Take a friend or two. For more info, go to

Saturday (4/21) 6 pm If A Tree Falls.

7:30 pm: The End of The Line.

Sunday (4/22) 4 pm:  The Cove.

5:40 pm:  Food, Inc.

7:20 pm:  Sharkwater.

Just go to table in front of the movie and get free tickets. The movies are incredibly inspiring, very educational and there are no strings.
Then if you’re still curious, check out http://www.polarisinstitute.org

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You probably don’t think much of prison or prisoners. Can’t blame you. It’s not a happy thought. However, Fareed Zakaria recently wrote a column for TIME magazine called America – Incarceration Nation inspired by Rev Pat Robertson.  It has compelling stats on what it is costing us to incarcerate at a number far, far greater than our European cousins. He writes:

“The U.S. has 760 prisoners per 100,000 citizens. That’s not just many more than in most other developed countries but seven to 10 times as many. Japan has 63 per 100,000, Germany has 90, France has 96, South Korea has 97, and ­Britain—with a rate among the ­highest—has 153. Even developing countries that are well-known for their crime problems have a third of U.S. numbers. Mexico has 208 prisoners per 100,000 citizens, and Brazil has 242. As Robertson pointed out on his TV show, The 700 Club, “We here in America make up 5% of the world’s population but we make up 25% of the [world’s] jailed prisoners.”

I urge you to click on this link and read his column completely.  http://www.fareedzakaria.com/home/Articles/Entries/2012/3/25_Incarceration_Nation.html

It will give you lots to talk about at dinner.

  • Why do we incarcerate so many more people per capita?
  • What would happen if marijuana was legalized?
  • Who has the highest crime rate?
  • Why do we rank so low in education compared to other countries? “Scores from the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment to be released Tuesday show 15-year-old students in the U.S. performing about average in reading and science, and below average in math. Out of 34 countries, the U.S. ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math.”
  • What has education got to do with incarceration?

The cost of these numbers is high, not only in currency, but in human lives and ultimately in our society as a whole. The solution is not  “Soft on Crime” or “Tough on Crime.” We should be seeking ways to be “Smart on Crime.” It begins with the conversation and an increased awareness of the issues. I’m not telling you what to think; I’m asking you to think about the issue, perhaps for the first time.

Our organization, Gina’s Team, has a tag line: “Education, not incarceration, is the cheapest form of crime prevention.” We bring educational programs behind the wires in Arizona to impact lives and help prepare them for release.

Perhaps you don’t know anyone behind the wires. You can still make a difference. If you have children or grandchildren, do all you can to encourage them to stay in school, improve their reading skills, set goals. This great gift that will also contribute to safer communities, save tax dollars, and make a positive difference. “Education, not incarceration.” That’s the key…inside and out.


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My mother instilled in me a love of books and writing when I was tiny. Mother said reading was the key to unlock a world of opportunities, dreams and imagination. My friend Isadora feels as I do. For nearly three years she has tirelessly trekked to Perryville prison for Gina’s Team to teach creative writing in eight week sessions.  She is making a tremendous difference in the lives of these women and we are incredibly grateful that she joined our  Team.

Here is the link to her most recent blog about her latest class. It is a powerful and compelling emotion to see the changes in these women.  You are giving them tools for life as well as hope. Thanks, Isadora.

Strong Women Blog

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