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Apr 5, 2010

An Interesting Offer

I received an unusual offer today to participate in a job fair at the Danbury Correctional Institution. The educational director who placed the call talked about the need to help women prepare for the job market assisting with resume writing and interviewing skills.

I quickly explained that I am all about helping women start and run their own businesses. My goal is to help women become independent not only financially, but also professionally–to be the charters of their own course.

He went on to say that actually many of the prisoners have talked about the dream of owning and operating their own companies. Would I be willing to share my expertise with them?

I have to admit that this has given me pause. It is not my usual demographic, but there is something intriguing and rewarding about considering helping this population succeed. I will run it by my mastermind group which meets tonight for their thoughts. I’m leaning towards participating.

I mentioned it to my younger daughter Laura. When she said she would be willing to come with me, I leaned more in the direction of saying yes.

I’d be interested in hearing from any of you who may have experience in helping women in this way.

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  1. Sandy Laipply

    Hi Jane- I don’t have experience helping women of this sort, but I have helped many teens who were in assorted kinds of trouble. Some really appreciate the help and take your suggestions, some could care less. I just felt that if I made a difference for one person, it was worth it. You never know who/what that person may turn out to be!
    good luck!

  2. wendy wrzos

    Jane, I haven’t had experience with this, but my first instinct would be that of course you should go.
    Empowering women is what you are about, regardless of where they are in life. Everyone can benefit from a bit of inspiration, wisdom and hope.

  3. kare Anderson

    At the request of my client – a private group of women (who are corporate chief legal counsel) I spoke at women’s detention centers in 5 cities (on how to communicate to connect and to avoid conflict in common everyday work and life situations). When I spoke at the company of a member of this group, the members paid to send me to the local center and made the arrangements with the center – it was the group’s mission – and it was life-changing for me to figure out how to get in sync, not talk at etc.
    After three of such sessions I found out that San Quentin prison has a Toastmasters chapter and a writers group and have participated in both several times through a mutual friend. This prison is 20 minutes (and a world) away from me. With the agreement of the prison I worked with two promising writers over a 3 year period. We did a trade. They gave me feedback and edited some of my work and I i did the same for them.
    To share this with Laura would be doubly worthwhile methinks.

    Also i think Eve Ensler worked with women behind bars/

  4. Linda

    Hi Jane, I tried to get into another facility for women (I think it was in Westchester ) years ago to conduct a writing workshop and got turned down. I think they already had a writing program going on. it’s something I’ve always wanted to do for all kinds of reasons that mostly have to do with my own personal sense of satisfaction and learning. But I’ve discovered that what gives me satisfaction and learning gives other people the same. Anyway, ask them if they want a Momoirs Workshop and we can car pool. Love, Linda

  5. Linda Varone

    This may not be your “demographic,” but you always learn something new from your students/participants. I am sure you will get as much as you give to these women.
    Go for it!

  6. elaine koufman

    i know u have a busy schedule, yet this seems like an opportunity to put your soulful proprietor hat on for a community service project…. bring old copies of your book if they are laying around since the repro is coming out.. ( tax deduction?) think how great if even one woman succeeds upon release!!! they could all read and discuss and have their own mastermind group!! and think of what you could learn from these women..good luck-elaine

  7. janepollak

    That’s a great mantra–just help one. Thank you!

    Thank you for the gentle nudge.

    This would put me in great company–yours and Eve Ensler’s. Thanks for the affirmation. I loved reading what you got out of it as well.

    I shall ask!

    @Linda V.
    You’re so right. I’m anxious to see what I’ll learn from them and what they’ll learn from me. Thanks.

  8. Carol Wilson

    This is an amazing opportunity to help women get back on their feet. Especially women who haven’t had the opportunities that many of us have had. I am a Life Coach specializing in women in transition or those facing substantial change. I would love, love, love to donate some time if they are interested or need more people.
    Best, Carol

  9. kathy

    I was forwarded your blog posting and wanted to encourage you to go. Our company, the Judy Dworin Performance Project has been doing performance residencies for the past 5 years at York Correctional for Women in Niantic. It is so worth the time and effort, people/women make mistakes but it does not mean they are are bad people; just in need of encouragement, rehabilitation and support. In this vein we have begun extending our project to the resettlement homes as a way to continue the support and rehabilition.
    Your words of motivation will be important and appreciated.

  10. janepollak

    Thank you for your offer. Once inside, I’ll find out what kinds of needs they have. This is all new to me.

    You’ve really motivated me! Thank you!

  11. Debba / Girlfriendology

    Jane – so cool! I’d say GO! I’m sure it will be rewarding and you’ll learn amazing lessons. Can’t wait to hear about it!

    Consider yourself hugged! Debba

  12. Janet Granger

    Jane – I agree with the posts below… you should go. If only because even if these women try or don’t try, it’s a glimmer of hope. A window. An idea of what they can do and be. Many just need to get past the fear and lack of knowledge. I think it will be revealing for you, also… Good luck!

  13. janepollak

    Yes! you’re so right. I really want to give back in this way, and I know I’ll gain more than I give. Thanks for your comment.

    I promise to tell all!


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