The Charity Craft Program at the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Gig Harbor has been “Caught In The Act – of Keeping Lakewood’s Promise” for May.
Over 150 offenders volunteer to work in the Charities Program each year at the Washington Corrections Center for Women. It is a popular program and there is a long waiting list. To be eligible offenders must be major infraction free for 60 days, be a team player and be committed to product quality as the final products represent the program and institution when they are given to the community. The Charities Program began in 2000 to provide offenders with the opportunity to learn new skills, increase self-esteem, and to gain a sense of connection to the local community by giving to others who are in need. In the beginning the offenders made mostly quilts for the Salvation Army. Five years later there are over 30 local charities that receive more than 3300 hand made items each year. The City of Lakewood‘s Holiday party for children is one of those recipients.
According to Dianne Lee, Crafts Program Manager, it has turned into a year round process. Hats need to be knitted, clothing sewed, and of course everything assembled. At first only dolls were made, but to appeal to all children soon teddy bears and most recently frogs are created and distributed. A couple of years ago the Crafts Program teamed up with McNeil Island Correctional Center. McNeil’s Hobby Program made cradles for the dolls and other wooden toys for over 500 children who attend Lakewood’s December event.
Each October the Washington Corrections Center for Women holds an Annual Charity Recognition Event where charities, donors and the women who make the items come together. Crafts and quilts are displayed, presentations are made and there is always an inspiring guest speaker. It is a huge success.
A Sister’s of Charity Newsletter is published about six times a year detailing what is occurring in the Crafts Program. A recent offender writes, “Love heals people – both those who receive it and those who give it away.” The Washington Corrections Center for Women at Gig Harbor receives the traveling Red Wagon, a symbol of Lakewood’s Promise of people pulling their weight to help the youth in Lakewood. Lakewood’s Promise mission is to mobilize people from every sector of life in Lakewood to build the character and competence of our youth by fulfilling these Five Promises:
- Caring Adults – Provide ongoing relationships with caring adults – parents, mentors, tutors and coaches
- Safe Places – Provide safe places with structured activities during non-school hours
- Healthy Start – Provide all the elements leading to good physical/mental health for a healthy future
- Marketable Skills – Provide marketable skills through effective education
- Opportunities to Serve – Provide youth with opportunities to serve in their community