Women in Jail and Rehab Share Hope and Warmth

This past winter, Crossroads for Women enjoyed a donation of beautifully crocheted blankets, hats and purses from an unusual donor – the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. Turns out, the Cumberland County jail in Portland, Maine has a crocheting program. Incarcerated women learn the art of crocheting and donate the items they create to a nonprofit organization in the community. This year, a former client of Crossroads for Women, Jennifer, insisted that the items be donated to the agency. Clients from all of Crossroads for Women’s outpatient and residential programs enjoyed the warmth of the handmade crocheted gifts.

Here’s what Jennifer had to say to the women who received the donated items at Crossroads and her reason for wanting to donate:

“I wasn’t aware of how much the program did for me or was trying to do for me, until I relapsed. If I would have taken my counselor’s advice, I would most likely have stayed sober. With the help of the program, I was able to stay sober for 4 months. I appreciate everything they have given me, and hope you all get something special from the program like I did.”

Inspired by the gifts from the women in jail and wanting to share some hope back with the incarcerated donors, Crossroads for Women clients wrote letters. Many of the women had been in similar situations and knew exactly what the others were going through. Here are a few excerpts from those letters:

Remember who you wanted to be. When we are faced with difficult times, all we really can do is to take one day at a time and try to find some good out of a bad situation, learn from our mistakes and grow. We can’t dwell on the past or predict our future. Life will get better. I know. I’ve been there.  ~ Joanna

Hey girl. I know you don’t know me but I know what it’s like being in jail and how great it is to get mail…I guess I will tell you about me…I have been drinking and drugging for over 17 years. It has cost me everything. My 13 year old daughter went to live with her dad when she was 3 years old…Losing her made me plunge deeper into my addictions. I lost my apartments, my job, my car, my license, most of my belongings. I dropped out of nursing school and started going to jail – over and over again…I was powerless…I’ve lost everything that has ever mattered to me…This is the 10th time I’ve gone to rehab. At first I was pissed. Now I know it was a blessing…I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life…I am focusing on myself. I go to AA meetings – I have true friends now…Every night I write 5 things I’m grateful for…I am free…I have fun – sober fun. I am learning to be comfortable in my own skin. I’m learning who I am, and working on becoming the woman I want to be…I know that as long as I don’t drink or drug today – I’m going to be ok. You are going to be okay. Things may seem hopeless, but I can tell you – there is HOPE…You are not alone – there are so many women like you; who feel just like you do…I don’t know your story, but I know there is a solution to all your problems…You will get through this difficult time…Hold onto HOPE.  ~ Stefanie

We hope this exchange is inspiring to you too.