Meet Gina, Former Inmate Turned Therapist/Mediator

A former VP of Sacks Fifth Avenue, Gina was found guilty of participating in her husband’s white collar crime. We met in the Northern California jail where I volunteer my time every week when she showed an interest in the Spirituality and Communication classes I’ve taught at the jail for the last several years. 

Gina was an enthusiastic student and after six months became my assistant, often continuing to offer emotional, mental and vocational tools to fellow students. With skills in business and fashion and an eye toward her own release, she encouraged these women to become more creative and self-sufficient, helping them develop business plans and mentoring them in building critical business skills.

Together, we were able to educate and inspire dozens of women break their cycles of trauma and addiction they had endured, and to focus on creating the lives they wanted to live – both while in prison and in their lives in the world. Upon their release, many of these women followed their passion to become business owners, fashion designers, hair stylists, and image consultants, etc.

When Gina was released two years later, she continued to be a role model and support the wellbeing of her clients by becoming a certified Somatic Therapist, as well as a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction practitioner and certified Mindfulness-Based Mediator.

Female Inmate Entrepreneurs

I’d like to share, also, an article about the LIFE Project, a project taking place at the Coffee Creek Women’s Correctional Facility in Oregon. LIFE (Lifelong Information for Entrepreneurs) was created and has operated through the MercyCorps Northwest for almost a decade. At the time of this report, covered by NPR, only 3 of the more than 100 inmates have reoffended, when the national average stands at 50%. You can hear the NPR interview HERE.

I hope these examples illustrate how, by having the will to improve our lives, and with the support of communities, we can ‘all’ improve our lives and the lives of those around us.

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