Earlier this week, our firm was privileged to take (via charter bus) 44 women (clients and friends) for a daylong gathering at the Ohio Reformatory for Women (ORW) in Marysville. These women spent the day with a group of women incarcerated there – most serving sentences of 15 years or more. Many of these women are part of a special program called Embark, that helps prepare them for their return to society. Embark was developed and is offered there by a local Christian ministry called Kindway. My colleagues Michelle O’Brien and Lori Fiske joined me for the day and we, as well as all of the women we hosted, came away having been powerfully impacted by the women we met with. Their lives reveal a total transformation – spiritually, mentally and emotionally and we wanted to use this issue of WealthNotes to share some of our initial impressions.
Self-Awareness – The Embark curriculum helps women there face their earlier decisions in order to take full accountability for their actions. But it also helps women look at their earlier lives to understand the factors (abuse, addiction, poverty) that contributed to their actions. In becoming more self-aware these women are better able to understand deep-seated issues that need healing and to provide motivation and understanding on how best to move forward changed for the better.
Faith – Most of the women chosen for the Embark program have already experienced a profound Christian conversion. They work to understand God’s forgiveness and love and in embracing that love with faith, they find strength to move forward in life, knowing that they are loved and accepted, not condemned. This is a huge part of the work of Kindway.
Joy – I think all of us were surprised to discover such joy inside the walls of a prison! From the first minute we arrived, these women shared such joy with us. They are learning that their past doesn’t have to predict their future and they live with great hope – which leads them to great joy. It was an amazing experience to come in thinking we would encourage and inspire them – only to see that they were the ones encouraging and inspiring us!
Courage – These women will face many challenges when they return to society. The Embark program targets women who have served long sentences but are within a year or two of release. By developing a close relationship with them on the inside, they know they have a safety net of people and resources greeting them as they re-enter society. This support helps give them the courage to return with confidence.
Self-awareness, faith, joy and courage – these are traits all of us need to live a truly great life – a life of purpose, a life in which we strive to become the best version of ourselves. Perhaps spend a few minutes reflecting on how you live or don’t live out these four virtues – and consider what actions you might take to grow in these areas.
Living out our greatness – is there anything better?! Have a wonderful weekend.
Written by Matt Palmer, Partner & Co-founder