About two months ago, I sent Carolina Pad this email:
Dear Carolina Pad,
I teach a weekly theatre and creative writing class to incarcerated women at the Travis County jail. When I first started the program, I was scared about entering the jail, scared about teaching, and plain scared that the women would want nothing to do with me. I decided to bring a gift with me – something they could keep their writings in. I went to Wal-Mart and started looking at folders. I wanted something fun and colorful to take and voila! I spotted the Hot Chocolate line. That first class, I took a stack in to the women’s dorm, where they all eyed me suspiciously. I told them I had brought them something and produced the folders. It was like a magician’s trick – the women ooohed and aaaahed, smiled and made eye contact.
“These are so pretty,” they all said, “We don’t get anything colorful like this in here.”
Since that first class, I have used Hot Chocolate folders as often as I can. These folders have become an integral part of our program, which is why, two years later, I’m submitting a donation request. We teach a theatre class, but it’s about so much more than role playing. We work with women who have histories of repeated sexual abuse, domestic violence and life-long trauma. Many are incarcerated for substance addiction problems who have a hard time seeing an alternate path for their lives. We work with games, stories, poetry and movement to build teamwork and communication skills, and to open women’s eyes to different ways of living.
I often feel like the beautiful folders that we hand out are our foot in the door, our first gesture to explain what we’re there to do. Every time a new teacher begins to work with us, she’s always surprised by the impact such a simple thing can have.
Thanks so much!
Last night, I came home to a HUGE stack of boxes by my front door – they donated 300 folders to our program! I’m so excited; I’ve been buying folders mostly out of my own pocket for the past 2 years so to have a huge stack that I can use over the next year or two is such a boon to me and to Conspire. Thanks, Carolina Pad!