The Lioness Tale Prison Project By Diane Pendola

DIANEDecember 2015
This is a long over-due up-date for our LiT-uPP friends and supporters. First I want to tell you about the project’s growth at Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla (CCWF). And then I want to share the news of a possible grant award to let us expand the program to the Folsom Women’s Facility (FWF) outside of Sacramento. But most of all I want to thank you for your belief in us, for your faith in the human spirit and in the possibilities of forgiveness, reconcilation and transformation. We are all in this world together. We need each other more than ever.
The Lioness Tale Prison Project is growing strong at CCWF. For over a year now a core group of inmate facilitators have been guiding their own LiT-uPP groups through a reading of The Lioness Tale. This provides a doorway for the prisoner participants to enter their own life stories, sharing their struggles in a circle of safety and support under the compassionate “panthering” of this skilled and caring core group of women.
AT CCWF the emphasis of LiT-uPP has been on working primarily with the Lifer community, often a forgotten and invisible part of the over-all prison population. I (Diane) first went into CCWF in December of 2010. Since then, this core group of women serving these horrendously long sentences, have learned the Enneagram and the principles of Gestalt Awareness Practice. They have integrated practices of mindfulness and loving kindness throughout their days in their units and cells and work-places as well as in their LiT-uPP groups. I so admire these women. They have been such teachers for me. And now they are reaching out to the new Lifers so that these often young and despairing women have seasoned elders embracing them, letting them know that even in this place a purpose can be lived and a light can be ignited.
Secondly, we have applied for an Innovative Programming Grant through the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. This grant is awarded to programs that have already been successfully established in one institution, allowing them to expand to another prison and in the process grow its volunteer base and over-all sustainability. We have applied to take LiT-uPP into the Folsom Women’s Facility. Not only does this grant give us the opportunity to replicate LiT-uPP in another prison but to also bring people into the prison from the outside for on-site training as future LiT-uPP supervisors and outside resources and support. Currently we have eight individuals identified for these Volunteers in Training positions. They are professionals connected to the Gestalt communities in California. Each of these individuals has a deep desire to bring their skills to the prisons to effect positive change. We are all super excited about this opportunity and ask that you keep it, and us, in your thoughts and prayers.
Sending you light and gratitude during this holiday season,
©Diane Pendola, December 2015

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