A Soirée With A Story

At the Women’s Prison Association’s recent Summer Soirée fundraiser, WPA supporters had the opportunity to meet Cecile, a recent graduate of WPA’s Women’s Leadership and Media Project (WLMP).

Cecile shared that she was initially introduced to WPA while incarcerated at Rikers Island Correctional Facility. She was determined to make the most of her time on Rikers and wanted to do whatever was needed to get out, get home, and reunite with her family. It was on this search for help that another incarcerated woman told Cecile about the services WPA offers women looking for a second chance.

A second chance was exactly what Cecile was looking for. At Rikers, she met a WPA representative whose card she held onto for two years and through three facility transfers, knowing that WPA would be there for her when she was on her way home.

Cecile sharing her story
“I realized I was not alone — there are others like me and there are people advocating for me.”

When that time finally came, Cecile made the call she’d been waiting for and WPA’s Brooklyn office provided her with basic necessities, including housing and clothing, and gave her a MetroCard so she could begin looking for a job. “A simple thing like a MetroCard makes all the difference,” Cecile said, “because if you don’t have a MetroCard to get you where you need to be and you’re living in a shelter, it’s not happening. You’re going nowhere.”

WPA has experience working with women like Cecile, and organization staff understand the difficulties of finding employment with a criminal record. WPA’s program Working it Out provides critical resources including job readiness training, internship opportunities, and ongoing support by WPA staff, all designed to help women find, secure, and maintain ongoing employment — and employment is key to minimizing the possibility of recidivism.

“The best thing to happen to me since coming to WPA is that my motivation has been lifted.”

Other projects like the Women’s Leadership & Media Project provide soft skills training — and more. “In the twelve-week [WLMP] program, I met women with similar experiences,” Cecile remarked. “I realized I was not alone — there are others like me and there are people advocating for me.”

Now Cecile is reunited with her family, has two employment offers, and feels optimistic about her future. “The best thing to happen to me since coming to WPA is that my motivation has been lifted…I thought I was going to be alone. I wanted to roll up in a ball and go to sleep because I thought my life was over. Thanks to the staff at WPA who motivate me and always say ‘you can do it’. I am grateful for that.”

A sincere ‘thank you’ to all who supported Working It Out via this year’s Soirée. Sign up to be the first to hear about future WPA events.