paws4people.org, one of the non-profits I volunteer with, is truly changing the lives of prison inmates, veterans, children and anyone who crosses paths with their programs.
It starts with adorable puppies, who begin their training at the Lionheart School working with children with autism. Later, the puppies are transferred to prison where
male and female inmate trainers with convictions ranging from drugs to murder, train assistance dogs for vulnerable populations of adults and children. I have seen it myself, redemption, even among those who seem the most lost, is possible.
The work paws4people.org is doing strikes a chord for me as many children who age out of foster care end up in the prison system. In fact, a reported 70 percent of those incarcerated in California have spent time in foster care, 75 percent in Connecticut and 80percent in Illinois. And a study of the Midwest found that 60 percent of men who spent time in foster care had been convicted of a crime.
paws4people.org is developing a new program, paws4potential, to catch ex-foster and other at-risk kids before they end up in prison.
In the meantime, enjoy this window into the difference a pack of gorgeous four-legged
blondes are making both in-and out-side of West Virginia’s Lakin Correctional, through my package in the Connection Newspapers:
Trained in Prison. Healing in Northern Virginia … Beyond Orange is the New Black.
Sharing the Burden of PTSD… Serving 7 – Life
You are not your Mistakes… Life without Parole
If you would prefer the PDF version: Trained in Prison, Healing in Virginia.