Help Jodie Rehabilitate Prisoners
Your support makes it possible for me to continue volunteer programs designed to rehabilitate and prepare prisoners for re-entry into society.
Why is this important and worthy of your support?
We made the news, not once but twice. Here's a clip about Toastmasters Behind Bars:
When it comes to our criminal justice system we can agree on one thing—we all want prisoners to come out better than when they came in.We have to decide what kind of neighbors we want—ones with less than a high school education, and on top of that, unaddressed behavior and addiction problems? Or, do we want ones who have taken steps to overcome obstacles, cultivated their character, found their voice and improved their communication skills, all of which makes them more eligible to become a taxpaying contributor to society?
Inmates who participate in prison Toastmaster clubs are less likely to return to prison, that’s a fact.A study conducted in Louisiana monitored 100 inmates who were released over a 5-year period. Statistically, 70% of them should have been re-arrested. Of those who participated in a Toastmasters program, none re-offended. According to a fiscal report recently issued by the state of Washington Department of Corrections, a four-year degree at the University of Washington costs the same as one year of incarceration. That begs the question, wouldn’t we be better off educating rather than warehousing our prisoners?
Here's a short video clip, Hilton Head's Talk of the Town, where I speak about prison education as a whole and Coloring Therapy for the Soul:
To the South Carolina Department of Corrections, volunteers are cherished resources.They supplement staff, provide programs and services that might not otherwise be available. Volunteers bridge the gap between the community and the correctional setting. As is, inmates don’t have access to technology or college courses. It’s up to volunteers to contribute what they can until our correctional system can change its focus from imprisonment to actual rehabilitation.
Being incarcerated doesn’t diminish a human being’s value.That’s why I go to Ridgeland on Wednesdays. Your donation will help support and sustain Toastmasters behind bars as well as keep the Adult Coloring class and prison book club well supplied.
You can help transform lives by cultivating the “people potential” behind bars by supporting my volunteer programming at Ridgeland Correctional Institute in Ridgeland, South Carolina.
1. TOASTMASTERS BEHIND BARS
As Treasurer of the club, I pay the inmate’s Toastmasters International membership dues, record educational awards, and obtain resources from TI’s website. When you donate to sponsor a specific inmate, please note his name. A new member’s cost for 6 months is $65, or $110 for a year. Renewing an existing club member costs is $45 for 6 months, or $90 for a year. If your donation is for non-specific, please note that we will make sure your support goes to inmates who cannot pay their dues from their own funds.
"To the sponsors of the Ridgeland Toastmaster club, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to have the opportunity to participate in this club. It has definitely been a life changing experience." R. B., Secretary, Ridgeland Toastmasters
"I want to thank you all for helping us by sponsoring us here at Ridgeland Toastmasters. This program has helped us so much and in so many ways. I love this class and look forward to joining a club on the outside and continuing my growth." E.B
"Tremendous thanks to the sponsors of my newly developed character and positive poersonality and personal growth. God bless!" R.H.
2. ADULT COLORING CLASS
“Coloring Therapy for the Soul” helps inmates experience the many benefits of being mindful, one of which is a new way to relieve stress. The 8-week class offers lessons and projects and concludes with a COLORING GURU certificate signifying their accomplishments and participation. Your support means our class will be well supplied with coloring pages, markers, colored pencils, etc.
MY WISH LIST
Inmates are invited to delve into my "coloring rig" filled with all kinds of different tools and supplies, but they tend to gravitate to my Prismacolor set of 48, high quality, colored pencils. I've provided them with Koh-I-Nor colored pencil sets (also high quality pencils) but their sets contain only 12 colored pencils. Although they are appreciated, they lack a variety of often used colors, such as flesh colored Peach and Light Peach, Lime Peel Green, and so on. My wish is that each coloring enthusiast could have their own set of Prismacolor pencils. This way they can go further into the coloring pages that I provide. See an example below.
We always need Shaprpies!
"Since I started this class, I haven’t stopped coloring. I found that I have had some kind of ability left, but I needed the right person to help me awaken that which was asleep for some time. I can’t wait for my class to come each week because there is more to learn. With the right teacher, one who is willing to pass on her knowledge, much can be accomplished for the benefit of all involved. Ms. Jodie, I thank you for your caring, your kindness, and yes, your great big heart. Because you took the time to make a bunch of men realize that we still have worth. May you be blessed, along with your family, to continue on your mission in bringing joy to those in need. May your palette always be filled with many good memories and your case with many beautiful colors to be put to good use." M.H.
"Ms. Jodie, I enjoy your class. I’ve found that coloring frees my mind of this place. P.S. I’m color blind."
"When I first signed up for this class, I didn’t know what to expect, but I must say that my expectations were pleasantly exceeded. This class is very calming. It is a great stress reliever. I have learnt an awful lot in a short length of time and would recommend this class to everyone. Ms. Jodie is a great person, donating her time and resources, and that in itself is a wonderful thing. Thanks, Ms. Jodie for all that you do for us here at RCI. I wish you all the best in any and all your endeavors."
3. BOOK CLUB: At this time, two prison clubs are reading Total Pardon - An Extraordinary Love Story by Wil and Linda Yazzie with Jodie Randisi.
Thirty participants at Allendale have promised to write a reflection letter, telling me their reaction to the amazing true story of Wil incredible journey to a life of fulfilment after decades of alcohol abuse and multiple incarcerations. Without Linda's fervent prayers, Wil would have died more than a few times. They're counting the "incidents" wherein Wil should have died. It is an incredible amount.
The best part of reading Total Pardon, other than it's a great story that has changed lives, it is enjoyable for me to read it out loud with INMATES, who are very connected to the content. The other important part of this book club is the matching up of prayer partners. After all, the book is about the power of prayer and God's unending, unconditional love.
One inmate, now a former atheiest, is finding joy and friendship with the Lord as he daily seeks God's presence, which is then shared with us in his newly discovered ability (gift) to write beautiful poetry.
As a selection, Total Pardon is ending in March. Donations designated for Prison Book Club will go toward purchasing multiple copies of our next selection.
The common thread among these RCI Book Club selections—they're all examples of the healing, restorative power of forgiveness and the transformational, life changing power of unconditional love.
"The only book I've ever read is the Bible. I have never read a book. I left school in third grade. That's why I signed up for book club. I follow along best I can." R.C.
"I'm learning a lot. When I come across a word I don't know that we don't discuss, I look it up in the dictionary." R.H.
"What's it mean to be a disciple of Christ?" D.B
"I'm hooked on true stories. I never knew I'd like reading about other people." S.L.
Preparing prisoners for re-entry into society requires rehabilitative educational programming. Your support will not only be greatly appreciated, your support will make a difference in helping transform lives by cultivating people potential behind bars.
Please share this with your contacts and help me spread the word. www.gofundme.com/prisonvolunteer
"As a recipient of your generosity, I am truly grateful and will strive to do my very best to prove worthy of your donation."
This guy has an engineering degree and is very well spoken and respected among the staff at RCI. He needs to be a leader in our club, for sure.
I’m VP of Education of Ridgeland Toastmasters and I would love to thank you for your contributions towards our club. Your contributions is a blessing so once again, thank you."
This guy is the hardest working dude in the club. His plan is to polish himself so when he gets out he can take over his father’s business and “bring some respect” to his family.
"Thank you for your act of kindness and know that I accept this gift which the purpose of becoming a competent leader and communicator, so money well spent."
This guy is a helper in medical and he invited the nursing staff to come hear him speak at our recent contest. They were so impressed with Toastmasters and their helper’s speaking ability.
I am so grateful for all the help provided. Many thanks! #blessed Jodie
I visited Allendale Correctional's book club as the guest author—30 inmates are reading Total Pardon - An Extraordinary Love Story by Wil and Linda Yazzie with Jodie Randisi. I learned that inmates are thrilled to have prayer partners assigned to them for a specific, approved prayer request. People from the outside who pray for them—that is a big deal, so I decided my ten inmates at Ridgeland Correction's book club (we're also reading Total Pardon) should do the same.
Thanks to Meredith Kronz and St. Luke's for paying for the books, by the way. Inmates really like this book because it's a story about prison pen pals who marry each other not once, but twice! Intriguing true story.
Here's today's story that makes me smile all day long.
An inmate, who is in my Coloring Therapy for the Soul class, has been coloring with tiny pieces of torn craft tape and writing poetry to go with the artwork, all of which melts my heart. Everything he does is so meaningful and beautiful. This humble man had no idea that he could make exquisite art and write poetry. SURPRISE!
So, he comes to book club and announces he's a nonreader. I thought he was there to learn how to read because we read out loud. Not the case. He meant to say he's afraid to read out loud. He gets extremely nervous. Yesterday, I walked in and he couldn't hold back any longer.
"I'm sorry, Ms. Jodie. I couldn't put the book down. I'm on page 141. I tried to stop but I just couldn't put it down!" The group is on page 24.
And then he read out loud during our hour together. It was so moving, for me especially. But that's not all. He told me he had written a poem about Total Pardon, and it was the best he's ever written. I haven't seen or heard it, but the last poem he read to us was so stunning, I cried in front of the men. But I'm thinking they, too, were also holding back tears.
"I'm a broken treasure. Will you tape me back together? Can you see my lines? They're precious and divine." His words. His prayer request: "My life is empty. I am alone. A life of rejection, with no home."
Apparently, he can't stop writing in rhyme. I told him, this isn't really a prayer request. We need to ask God for the things we want, not tell him what we have.
However, his request has been matched with a prayer partner who knows exactly how to pray for him. I thought I was providing instruction on prayer, but he taught me a lesson. His heart is talking to God all the time, and I will pray with him, and let him lead.
I need three more people to pray for inmates who are seeking prayer partners. If that is you, please let me know you're interested and what your specific prayer request is.
BOTTOMLINE: God is moving at RCI. The evidence of which I get to see. And it's an honor to share some of what's happening here with my supporters. I'm blessed, and I know it.
Clearly, not everyone can be a prison volunteer and go behind bars every week as I do. As Christians, it's rare to witness actual transformations taking place in a person's life. I get to be a witness as well as play a small part in what God is doing there. I thank Him every day because MY life is so much richer. Who knew an adult coloring class could unveil and restore a person's self-esteem?
Your generous support helps me continue the work, so I thank you in advance for any donation you might give. I always need more coloring supplies, and I have inmates waiting to join Toastmasters as well as many who will need their Toastmasters dues paid for - that's coming up in March.
God bless all who read this and care about underserved people who are desperately seeking HOPE for a better life.
1. BOOK CLUB. We just finished Sea of Glory by Ken Wales, after which I asked the participants to write a summary of their experience. I was astonished by the insight I found when I read Inmate Chapman's 2-page summary. I did not expect his very well written piece to be so fascinating. His review of the WW II true story was a small part of what Mr. Chapman learned in prison book club. He stated that he was very surprised to learn that one of our participants only reads the Bible, and that he comes to prison book club to learn how to read. Mr. Chapman realized that he had always been around educated people and couldn't imagine what it was like to not be able to read. This inspired him to begin thinking differently about the people in his community. Because of prison book club, he received what some might call a "calling" to help others . His eyes were open to the possibility of redeeming his time behind bars. Not only did his worldview shift slightly because of the book's content, upon reflection, he determined that he has purpose. This is just one example the transformation I've seen while volunteering at RCI.
Our next book is The Edge of Terror by Scott Walker, the heroic story and a little known saga of American citizens trapped in the Japanese-occupied Philippines during WW II. I have one copy, signed by the author, whom I've met and admired greatly. The problem is, we have only one copy. From these funds, I am able to purchase multiple copies. Participants receive their own copy, but these books end up circulating around the dorms, which I love!
"I was never interested in true stories. I read fantasy, other-world realities type novels, but now, I'm very interested in the biographical stories you bring to us. Thank you so much for caring."