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Over the last 4 years I have volunteered with AFJ and had the privilege of teaching the women at the Goochland County Women’s Correctional Center how to paint. For as long as I can remember I have loved to create; in a variety of mediums. As I’ve gotten older and as my relationship with God has grown, I’ve learned that my creativity and talent are gifts; gifts to be shared. I learned about AFJ through social media, specifically through my friend, Jamie. She and I met up to talk about the different programs and she shared with me the purpose and mission of AFJ. When I learned there was a program out at the Correctional Center, I knew that is where I wanted to volunteer.

I’m grateful my employer endorses community involvement and I get to volunteer at the correctional facility on the fourth Wednesday of the month. I love Art for the Journey’s mission so much I find time to volunteer on my “off hours” as well; such as helping to plan the annual gala, assisting with classes for Veterans or youth or participating in writing the mission and vision statements for this organization.
During these last 4 years I not only have learned so much about them, but also about myself. the time these women leave class, if they weren’t smiling when they walked in, they sure are when they walk out.

Writing this is a great reminder of what a wonderful and loving environment I grew up in. I’m not sure these women could say the same; maybe; maybe not. Some of these women have shared their stories and some of them hold their cards close. What I would love for you all to know is by the time these women leave class, if they weren’t smiling when they walked in, they sure are when they walk out.

I know in my life experience, I attach feelings and emotions to activities and events. When released, my desire for these women is they remember how relaxed and peaceful they felt while painting and decide to continue their new skill and share it with their friends and family.

The VCCW art students often tell me they look forward to art class the most because this is where they feel relaxed and “forget they are in prison”. I am blessed to witness the individual transformation of each of these women.