On Wednesday, January 16, we had a very productive meeting with two combined units at Community Corrections in Madison , WI to discuss The Demeter Foundation advocacy and program/services updates, including workshops that are being based on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Eight Dimensions of Wellness. Over 75% of the attendees knew who we were and had very positive things to say about us including, "We know when a woman contacts you, you will get back to her right away and continue with your support." "The Welcome Home Kits are so valuable." It was suggested that we give a brief meeting presentation to all units/neighborhood offices or at the next unit supervisors meeting. We are part of the solution to support women coming home from prison. It's about the WHOLE person, not just their incarceration!
Among the findings, obtained first by USA TODAY, were that half of adults in the USA have an immediate family member who has been incarcerated. That's about 113 million people who have a close family member who has spent time behind bars. Please read this important report at USA Today
We at Demeter Foundation want to start by wishing everyone happy holidays regardless of your spiritual path. My personal stance is celebrate them all. Our communities would be better and safer places if we concentrated on similarities instead of differences. Mutual respect and kindness towards self, others and community means we realize and recognize that we are all in this together.
Today's dimension of wellness is community. Technically it is referred to by SAMHSA as the "social dimension" and is defined as developing a sense of connection, belonging, and being part of a well developed social support system. Hence the "we are all in this together" statement.
Demeter Foundation has received several donations from individuals and some grant money in the past couple months. We are grateful for any size donations and this includes our requests for items to add to the welcome home kits. It is a matter of the heart of our communities in Wisconsin to not only say we care about the incarcerated and newly released women we serve and support but to reach out to contribute is kindness in action.
Our Foundation receives the message from women who receive our services that material things are awesome and appreciated very much. By far the biggest amount of gratitude expressed is that there are people who care about them. If you are one of these community members thank you very much.
There are many families and friends who support all incarcerated people. Adding the community and social connection also makes a sizeable difference. The movement towards the healing of our communities includes the inclusion of all members.
Finally we hope for the safety of all those within our correctional systems. When I say this I want to add that hope to include all the men and women who work within the system. While Demeter advocates for humane treatment, we do mean humane treatment for everyone. Especially those that are part of the Wisconsin women's system of care. Being away from family and loved ones over the next few weeks is even tougher than usual.
Demeter Foundation Board President
Wisconsin Justice Initiative...Defense attorneys are failing their clients if they neglect to understand, investigate, and present evidence of childhood trauma ( almost every woman incarcerated in Wisconsin has a trauma history) in criminal cases, says a legal and neuroscience expert. Read the full article here.
Executive Director named as an Affiliate to the University of Wisconsin-School of Human Ecology Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies
Alice F. Pauser, Executive Director of The Demeter Foundation, has been named as an CommNS Affiliate. The Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies, or the “CommNS”, is a hub for faculty, students, and community partners to collaborate on research, practice, and evaluation that examines and advances the well-being of communities, as well as the civic and nonprofit sectors.
The CommNS builds capacity and knowledge in community and nonprofit studies through the integration of action, research, education, outreach, engagement, and evaluation. It provides an inspiring place for UW faculty, students, and CommNS affiliates to conduct groundbreaking applied research examining key issues in communities and the civic and nonprofit sectors. The CommNS facilitates exchanges among community members, practitioners, and academic scholars to encourage and support innovative thinking, best practice development, and mutually beneficial research partnerships, technical support, and community-engaged projects and learning.
Every month women are released from the Wisconsin Women’s Correctional System to our communities. Many of the women come out with little but the clothes on their backs. Our Welcome Home Kits provide several basic personal essentials such as soap, lotion, toothbrush/paste, deodorant and socks. Kits are shipped statewide. Now that cold weather is here, we put more than one pair in each box. We work with women on a supportive path home. In lieu of socks, please consider a donation of $10.00 to purchase socks. Find the complete information here.
Welcome to the September 19th blog post. When I last posted I shared about my to do list. While I have made real progress, I have been exploring the difference between saying and doing. Personally that's a whole story in and of itself. I'll hold that thought for now. I have something much more exciting to tell you about. It pertains to the WELLNESS plan for the Demeter Foundation.
In the SAMHSA eight dimensions of wellness there is a valuable piece to being well that pertains to spirit and soul. The biggest factor involved is finding your purpose and then making it happen. So welcome to the Demeter Foundation's version of making it happen!
If you are reading this there is a very good chance you are familiar with our mission. In order for us to make that happen we need to do what we say we are going to do.
Tomorrow morning in the Capital Times there will be a third article in a series of three concerning the Wisconsin Correctional/Criminal Justice system's challenges. I was interviewed a few weeks back and am attempting to make two key points.
We also want to invite you to a public viewing of the Documentary titled "Mass incarceration and the effects on the family"
**There are details of this event on our Facebook page and here on our website.**
1) Our intention at Demeter Foundation is to acknowledge that there are SOME very good genuine people working in the Department. Since we advocate specifically for women we focus on issues that matter to the women we serve. One of the most important issues is how the mass incarceration of women effects their loved ones.
2) We want it to be known that here at Demeter we believe that we are one of the most valuable pieces in helping to create not only some of the questions but to be at the table to discuss and collaborate with other stakeholders to find the answers and then make them happen. We know there is a huge gap between what society says (you have done your time and welcome back to our communities) and what is really available for resources when re-entry is attempted.
So keep reading in the coming entries. We want to know your opinions as long as you are respectful. This doesn't mean you have to agree with what we think we just don't believe in attacking individuals. So if you have an opposing views please present them respectfully.
A new prison unit aims to reduce recidivism in Connecticut. But can it become the standard nationwide? Glamour.com traveled to York Correctional Institution to find out.
Two pilot programs are called TRUE and WORTH. The seeds for TRUE and WORTH were planted in 2015. That summer, the Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit that studies and hopes to shape criminal justice reform, invited Connecticut State Commissioner of Corrections Scott Semple and Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy to join an on-site tour of German prisons, which bear little resemblance to those in the United States. Read the entire article here.
by Andrea Blanch, Beth Filson, and Darby Penney with contributions from Cathy Cave
"This guide was created for a very specific purpose: to help make trauma-informed peer support available to women who are trauma survivors and who receive or have received mental health and/or substance abuse services. It is designed as a resource for peer supporters in these or other settings who want to learn how to integrate trauma-informed principles into their relationships with the women they support or into the peer support groups they are members of. The goal is to provide peer supporters—both male and female— with the understanding, tools, and resources needed to engage in culturally responsive, trauma-informed peer support relationships with women trauma survivors. "
Peer Supporters who have the lived experience of incarceration can work directly with women who are still incarcerated or formerly incarcerated. You can access the guide here
Welcome to a new series of posts. It is the last day of July and summer seems to be flying by. It has been about two months since I sat down and made a list of everything I said I was going to do over summer. Yes I am one of those people that is always creating and revising a list. Typically I have about ten to fifteen items on that list and I get a sense of accomplishment as I cross them off after I complete each one. I don't want to waste a bunch of your time but I wonder if anyone out there has the same issue that I do with my list?
I will be blogging for the next several weeks about the difference between what I say I am going to do on my list and the things that I actually do. I promise that I will keep it real. I am also looking for several of you to carry on a dialogue with me by adding comments in response to my posts. I am not looking for advice on how to cross things off my list. I get that routinely when I share my struggles. Because while I struggle with my own challenges I can tell you very quickly what you are doing wrong and what you should do to "fix" it. What I am hoping is that we can share back and forth about our own experiences. Enough of that for now but please join in while I move forward.
We at the Demeter Foundation have our own "to do" list and that is what I want to write about. The founder and Executive Director Alice Pauser had a vision when she began this journey. While I don't want to over state this, Alice dreams big. She has been working very hard for a very long time to get us to where our foundation is today. She is a pretty remarkable woman who is on a mission. If you are new to our website read our mission statement. I will give you the short version. Care about all people and treat them with dignity so that we can make the world a better place. DUH!
No matter who you are or how you fit into the big picture you can't argue with that mission. I will wrap this up by thanking everyone who has been involved in building this foundation and helping create the momentum that is in the air today. We feel hope.
The entries and posts moving forward are going to focus on moving towards wellness. It's going to be about doing what it takes to get me to where I want to be. More than anything though this is going to be about where we at the Demeter Foundation want to go and how we will get there. To me that means the difference between what we say we want to do and actually doing it! Just filling in the gaps!!
Excuse me while I step away long enough to cross another item off my own personal list. Have a great day.