MOM helps convicts, families

“Caroline Williams is an attorney with a lot on her plate. Besides her work as a lawyer, Williams is a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, she speaks at multiple correctional facilities across the state of Ohio and most recently she helped organize a program called Mothers on a Mission.”

Caroline Williams is an attorney with a lot on her plate.

Besides her work as a lawyer, Williams is a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, she speaks at multiple correctional facilities across the state of Ohio and most recently she helped organize a program called Mothers on a Mission.

The program originated by talking to mothers in church and other community meetings, Williams said. People were sharing that their sons or daughters or spouses had been incarcerated.

Mothers on a Mission, or MOM, is a re-entry program designed to help the parents, spouses and families of incarcerated individuals, as well as the individuals themselves.

The main focus of the group is pretty broad, Williams said. The mission of the group is the strength of the entire family and community wholeness, looking at every member of the family, not just the incarcerated individual. The experience takes a toll on everyone.

At only three months of operation, the program is still in its formative stages.

This is our first year, but some of the things we have planned for the year would be looking at assertiveness training in the sense that it is assertive versus aggressive, being able to speak up for yourself, Williams said. Many women feel powerless and intimidated by not only the criminal justice system but by many other agencies we work with.

The program currently, consisting of 13 members, has funding that comes from the members and other individuals from the community.

Becoming involved with a re-entry program was nothing new for Williams.

I got involved by being asked to come in and speak. Initially I thought they must have been really desperate for having me come in and speak, but that’s how I got started, Williams said. The word kind of spread that I was a good speaker and very motivational.

Williams didn’t always see herself as a motivational speaker.

A friend of mine that I worked with heard me speak and said ‘Wow, you really encourage people and lift them up and give them hope,’ so I fell into it, Williams said.

When speaking at correctional facilities, Williams speaks on different topics.

It depends on the theme. Somehow I think whatever you are talking about you have to weave in the fact that failure isn’t final, Williams said. Also, letting go of the past and learning from our past experiences. You can’t change the past, but you can move forward. One of the things I talk about is the importance of a strong family.

In the immediate future, Williams said the establishment of an advisory board that would help the women involved with the program is pivotal.

We need to have key people from the community on our advisory board, Williams said. It would ensure the support that we need and provide us a wealth of knowledge that would assist the mothers.

Despite only being around for a short time, Williams has high expectations.

Five years from now, I would hope that the stigma of having a son or daughter incarcerated and not being able to talk about it and feel comfortable talking about it would be eroded, and more people would be reaching out to one another to help them go through that process, Williams said. It would almost be common place that people would know about it, and maybe we’ll work ourselves out of existence.


” #1.1361391:2316246678.jpg:20080129_jail_gk.jpg:The Summit County Jail is just one of the focuses of MOM.:Gary Kreuger”