Do you know our superhero and extraordinary volunteer, Bev Perdue Jennings? Not only is Bev a nationally recognized watercolorist, prize winning oil painter, and expert art instructor, she is an unstoppable force! Let us tell you a story!
As a dedicated volunteer and Board member with Art for the Journey, Bev has been sharing her talents with art students at the Virginia Correctional Center for Women for over four years. On her most recent trip to the prison, Bev arrived at the gate and was customarily frisked and searched. Upon close inspection, the officers noticed that she was wearing camouflage pants (looking quite stylish!). One shook her head and stated that she would need to call her supervisor to see if these were allowed, as there are several wardrobe restrictions when visiting the prison.
Bev, with her charming, fearless demeanor, offered to hike up her pants and tuck them under her coat so they could not be seen. She even demonstrated the look for the officers, but they didn’t see the humor, since this is a volunteer wardrobe rule. In the end, she was denied access to the prison, as camo has recently been forbidden by the Department of Corrections.
Unflappable Bev was not going to let this obstacle interfere with her volunteering, so she borrowed Cindy Paullin’s car (as they had carpooled that day), drove to a nearby “Dollar General” store, bought a $6.00 pair of black pants, and asked the cashier to use the store’s bathroom to change. The Dollar General employee told her this has happened before and "no problem." So off she went, changed, and returned to the guard gate.
The officers were impressed at this volunteer’s dedication! The women in the art class were thrilled to see Bev arrive, as she is an encouraging, highly skilled instructor who treats the women with dignity and compassion. Bev spends a great deal of time with each student guiding their progress, inspiring them and offering a listening ear. She has made this program beautifully impactful as volunteers bring solace and peace to these oftentimes forgotten individuals, who are not just inmates. They are mothers and daughters, sisters and friends, and many of whom, at one time, victims themselves.
Art for the Journey is eternally so very grateful to Bev and all of our women’s prison volunteers, for what they have done to support the organization with generosity, guidance, countless hours of service and incredible talent.
The women at VCCW and everyone at Art for the Journey knows that when Bev Perdue sets her mind on something she does it with love, determination, and creativity!
About these pictures above: On the drive to the Goochland Women's Correctional Center, Bev Perdue will sometimes stop the car to get a photo of a good painting subject to share with one of the art classes she leads. Here, Bev climbs up on a fence to capture a picture of this farm and some horses in beautiful light with morning cast shadows.
There are other wonderful stories of Bev's perseverance and her dedication to this cause! You might ask her about when she and Cindy stopped to get a photo of some cows on the way back from Goochland on the cut through (but a little off course) through the Powhatan Correctional Farm. Funny story!