Prison Clubs District 58 Toastmasters May 17, 2019
D-58 Toastmasters, Do you want to make a difference ?
Violence is a treatable disease
What we know is that violence is a disease and we can reduce the spread of violence using the same strategies that epidemiologists use to treat other infectious diseases. It’s a simple model: interrupt the spread of violence, treat those at high risk of becoming infected, and change unhealthy community norms.
Inside a Prison Club
By Jodie Randisi, Treasurer, Ridgeland Toastmasters
Prison volunteers have firsthand experience and insight that others don’t have regarding the lives of prisoners, how they’ve gotten to where they are, and how they cope with and accept their crimes. It is easy for to assume these men are evil. What isn’t easy is choosing to remember that there have been circumstances (often unimaginable to us in our secure lives) that have landed these men in prison. For the most part, these men are entirely conscious and aware of their wrongdoing. They are very interested in learning how to turn their mess into a message. With their release in mind, prison club Toastmasters are working to reestablish themselves in their communities and especially within their families.
How does Toastmasters help prisoners?
Until people recognize, embrace, and heal those wounded parts of themselves, they cannot be whole; they cannot heal. However, healing is wired into our DNA. We were born with
everything we need to live and thrive. Willingness to face and embrace pain enables us to grow, evolve, and to become our best selves. Being able to share thoughts, ideas and stories has changed the mindset of prison club members.
Clyde Smith, Connie Buehner, Diana Hardy, and others District 58 Toastmasters have seen inmates go from being unable to express themselves with clarity to being confident speakers, which has helped them relationally as well. That’s why I believe prisons are a great place to cultivate people potential and Toastmasters is ideal soil to grow a crop of better men.
Prison Clubs, Why?
Toastmasters gave me the confidence I need to pursue a business career. I now have hope and courage. I am a positive vocal leader, preparing to be a motivational speaker. I have so much inside of me. I was too shy to let it out. I’m ready to speak to the youth about making good choices before they reach this level.
Meetings are an Oasis of Encouragement
Despite confinement, we meet weekly to share ideas, learn about each other, and regain humanity. Attendance in a prison is subject to many variables not encountered in
the outside world: lockdowns due to stabbings, medical appointments, parole hearings, work assignments, and family visits, all of which occasionally get in the way.
Our meetings are an oasis of encouragement for a brighter future as well as a respite from an otherwise often hostile environment. Meetings become a springboard for frank conversations about faith, fortitude, friendship as well as loss, anger, loneliness and redemption. For men of low to average education, I’m impressed by their deep insights and observations. I wonder whether they have always been so perceptive, or did these insights comes after incarceration.
If you’d like to get involved, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.