As twenty-something women living in New York, there are a prolific number of charity events inviting us to purchase tickets, buy dresses, and enjoy open bars. I am here not only to add to your list of causes, but hopefully to inspire you to do even more than don a cocktail dress and purchase tickets to an event.
The Women’s Prison Association.
Not, perhaps, a cause you’ve heard of, or one with the most glamorous name around, but probably one of the worthiest organizations out there and one that truly helps women in need. For me, the connection with the Women’s Prison Association started on a personal level. Both my grandmother and great grandmother were intimately involved with the organization and spent their time working directly with the women and children serviced by the WPA. As I’ve learned more about the organization, I’ve realized how valuable the work of the Women’s Prison Association really is.
The WPA takes on the unique role of supporting those who are often rejected by society, helping women take control of their lives and realize the futures they desire. In this sense, the WPA not only services its clients, but works to transform the futures of their children and their communities.
As of June 2008, over 200,000 women were in state prisons, federal prisons or local jails. Of these women, however, two-thirds were convicted of non-violent crimes, the majority of women sentenced for drug-related crimes and property offenses. Upon leaving prison, women face challenges around employment, housing, and most importantly, custody of their children and support for their families. While facing the harsh realities of reentering society, the voices and rights of women are often overshadowed by bureaucratic obstacles, societal judgment, and a general lack of support. Founded in 1853, the Women’s Prison Association is the oldest non-profit working to advocate for these women. The WPA services more than 2,500 New York women each year who have been impacted by incarceration. Providing programs and services in prison and jails, as well as in the community, the WPA actively cultivates a relationship with its female clients. The organization has a commitment to helping each client build her resiliency and self-sufficiency so that the women it works with become independent, empowered individuals who are in control of their own futures.
As women seeking our own independence and empowerment, I hope this is an organization that tugs at some of your heartstrings. If you feel compelled to help, please look into the WPA. There are numerous ways to get involved, and yes, an event that the organization would love any and all inspired young women to attend. The First Annual Women’s Prison Association After Party will take place next Wednesday, April 27th. Tickets are still available!
If you would like to learn more about the organization and get involved, check out their website.
By Nina Cronan