Category Archives: Incarcerated

CelebrityChefs2016 LOGO 2-Color

On July 28, Healthy You will host Celebrity Chefs 2016 at Bella’s Ballroom from 6:30 p.m. Dazzle your date with fantastic dishes prepared by local chefs and local celebrities. Music by Legacy and a silent auction will also take place at the event.

Tickets are $50 per person and can be purchased by calling 334-671-7774 or through PayPal. If ordering through PayPal, your receipt will serve as your ticket so make sure to bring it with you!

Participating teams are:
Troy Dothan Professor David Arrington and Chef Ryan McCullough with Oak and Olive
Dr. Sam Tarwater and Chef James Ragland with the Dothan Country Club
Mayor Mike Schmitz and Chef Paul Fripp with Sysco
Judge Rose Gordon and Chef Erick Rogers with the Bistro
Radio Personality Skip Nelson and Chef Rick Balzaratti with the Basketcase
DDRA Director Jansen Tidmore and Chef Joe Whaley with Bella’s

Anita Dawkins will serve as emcee with Matt Parker, Dr. LaToya Torrence and Dr. Paul Maddox as food judges. You don’t want to miss Celebrity Chefs 2016! Money raised will benefit Healthy You programs for formerly incarcerated women and at-risk youth.

“Who Am I?”
By: Bridgette Bradley, born in 1973 in the Birmingham area
I am a mother of two
I am a very sweet lady
I am a loving person
I am a lovable person
I am Nice
I am kind
I am eager to learn
I am very emotional
I am too sensitive
I am a good listener
Sometimes I am selfish
I am a strong believer in God
I am a woman of Faith
I am a Recovering Addict

“I am…”
By: Kristal Riddle
I am loving and kind.
I am witty and wise.
I am funny and sweet.
I am trendy and neat.
I am artsy and musical.
I am clever and mystical.
I am often curious and smart.
I am a total kid at heart.
I am patient and humble.
I am no longer a thug that’s ready to rumble.
I am dedicated and committed to my Lord above.
I am full of hope and love.
I’m learning more about myself each day.
I am practicing worrying less and every day I pray.
I am showing forgiveness and the act of letting go.
I am learning to take care of me and how to say no.
I am Kristal: beautiful and strong on my journal to self discovery.
I am deserving and entitled to this thing called recovery.

By: Christie Foster, born in 1985
I am truly alive, because I’ve played with death.
I am determined, because I’ve given up to defeat.
I’m whole because I’ve been broken.
I’m courageous because I’ve been a coward.
I am confident because I’ve existed in doubt.
I am strong, because I’ve been weak.
I’m happy, because I’ve been kissed by devastation
I’m sweet, because I’ve had bitterness on my lips.
I am proud, because I’ve walked inside of shame.
I am smart, because I’ve acted in ignorance.
I am silly, because I’ve drowned under depression.
I’m at peace, because I’ve danced in torment.
I am a survivor, because I’ve been a victim.
I am free, because I know the weight of chains.
I’m striving for more, because I’ve settled for less.
I’m worthy because I’ve felt less than human.
I am clean because I’ve been filthy and dirty.
I am wanted, because I’ve known neglect.
I am comforted because I’ve felt lonely.
I’m restored, because I’ve been lost and afraid.
I am seen because I’ve felt invisible.
I am heard, because I’ve been silent with no voice.
I’m standing up, because I’ve been beaten down.
I’m renewed and refreshed because I’ve been sick and tired.
I am redeemed because I’ve been burdened by condemnation.
I am forgiven because I’ve confessed my sins.
I am loved because I am a daughter of God.
I am precious in my Father’s sight.
I am the apple of His eye.
I am protected in the Shadow of His Wings.
I’m wonderfully and beautifully made.
I’m blessed and highly favored.
I am so grateful.

IMG_9962Humility is one of life’s hardest lessons. And it’s a lesson Stacy Hollis was forced to learn.

Stacy was living with her mother in New Brockton and working in property management. She had been working as a bookkeeper and property manager for 150 rental properties for five years, when Stacy was told that $12,000 was missing. Thinking that a deposit was just made in the wrong place, she and her boss began investigating and—after her arrest–found that $93,000 was missing from several accounts. Stacy maintained her innocence, doing everything she could to try to figure out what happened to the money; her boss claimed to believe her but fired her anyway. Several months later, a detective called, requesting she go to the police station. Stacy realized she needed an attorney. Months after that initial call, she was arrested and charged with theft of property. For four long years, Stacy fought the charges.

“I fought as long as I could,” she says. “I knew I didn’t do it. That was a hard, hard time. It’s painful.”

Getting ready to go to trial, Stacy lost her legal representation when she couldn’t afford to hire a CPA to do an audit. Even though she offered to make payment arrangements, she couldn’t find anyone to help her. About that same time, she found out she was pregnant. The day she went to work to tell her boss that she was pregnant, she was fired. They allowed her to stay and train the new property manager so she maintained a job for about one month. Looking back, Stacy now believes that all these things happened for a reason—so she could be a help to other people through her own experiences.

“All three things happened in one week’s time. It was a very painful time and my world was falling apart but I did have good family support.”

Stacy went to court and was appointed with an attorney. Her court date was delayed so her attorney could get up to speed on the case. He told her she would only be put on probation and would not do any time if she pled guilty. A week away from the court date, Stacy’s attorney had no character witnesses, no court appointed CPA and nothing else in place to help Stacy’s case. Stacy knew that they were not prepared to go to trial and her attorney pushed her to make a decision on the spot to change her plea to guilty.

“I was so tired, I just gave up. Part of me is still mad that I didn’t keep fighting because I knew I didn’t do it. But I went back to court and changed my plea to guilty.”

On April 15, Stacy took her son to school, came home, put her daughter in her baby swing. She had her phone on silent so it wouldn’t wake the baby. After doing a little house cleaning, she checked her phone and found a message at 8:58 from her attorney saying she was supposed to be in court at 9 a.m. She never received a notice in the mail telling her about her court date. Immediately, Stacy found a sitter for her daughter and headed to Enterprise for court. They went through the process and the judge went on the DA wanted—13 years of probation and 18 months of prison. Stacy couldn’t believe the judge’s decision. Stacy’s attorney could offer no reason as to why the DA asked for jail time even after they were advised to change the plea.

“When I heard 18 months in prison I remember thinking there was no way I just heard what I thought I heard. All I could do was cry.”

Stacy had one week and a half to say goodbye to her seven month old daughter and 15 year old son. Her son moved to Texas so he could live with his father. He didn’t want to go but it was what Stacy felt was the right thing to do. Stacy didn’t want her son to visit because she didn’t want him to see her in jail. She didn’t want him to make those kind of memories about his mother. They talked on the phone and wrote letters. But she did see her daughter. Her boyfriend brought her to visitation and she was always happy to see mom.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I can’t ever get that time back and that’s what hurts the worst,” Stacy says.

As hard as the time spent in prison was, Stacy is now able to see the blessings hidden in the situation. Three hundred women were housed at Montgomery Women’s Facility. The loud, crowded prison had no air conditioning. Stacy was able to work at Wendy’s through a work release program. Working at Wendy’s was a humbling experience for Stacy. She was often treated differently from the other employees due to the fact that she was an inmate. The prison kept 40 percent of her salary plus $15 per month for laundry. But Stacy knew working and doing what she was told was her ticket home.

“I learned almost on a daily basis that I had to trust God. God taught me to be humble and depend on him.”

Stacy’s boyfriend hired an attorney to try to get her out of prison early. After her shocking experience the last time she was in court, Stacy was hesitant to return. So she turned to some bible verses she had saved about fear. Before her incarceration, Stacy felt she was led to read the book of Jeremiah. She believed that she was being told that though she may struggle, God will prevail. She felt that God was telling her not to be scared. Stacy went to court and argued that she could pay more restitution if she was allowed to leave jail and get a full time job. Based on that argument, She was allowed to come home early.

“It was painful but I am so thankful,” she says.

Stacy’s daughter was 20 months old when she got home. While there was a transitional period for a couple of weeks to get reacquainted, her daughter never forgot who her mom was. Stacy’s 17 year old son still lives in Texas. Since her early released was based on Stacy finding a full time job, she immediately went on a job search. She was hired by one company but was asked to leave after they found out about her charge. Once again, Stacy felt she could see God’s hand in the events of her life. Even before her experiences, Stacy wanted to help people but didn’t know how. While in prison, she took Healthy You’s Just the Facts: Life Skills class and signed up for case management. She knew employment would be hard but everything lined up so she could be at Healthy You. She now works as Resident Manager at Genesis II, Healthy You’s transitional home for formerly incarcerated women.

“I absolutely love my job. God taught me and protected me while i was in and he still is,” she says. “I feel like I am helping these women but they also help me.”

By Cynthia Washington

Click for Video

For children of an incarcerated parent, the holidays can be an especially hard time. Healthy You Inc. is hoping to bring joy to those affected by incarceration with an Angel Tree for the 93 children of the ladies incarcerated at the Houston County Jail.

Volunteers who would like to participate will be given the name of a child, along with that child’s age, interests and hobbies. They will then purchase one present for the incarcerated mother to give to her child for Christmas. The gifts will be distributed on December 22. One of Healthy You’s goals is family reunification and the Angel Tree will give incarcerated mothers a chance to connect with their children for Christmas.

The original Angel Tree program was founded by formerly incarcerated Alabamian Mary Kay Beard. Beard held the first Angel Tree for children of incarcerated parents in Birmingham in the 70s. The program is now international.

If you would like to participate in the Angel Tree by purchasing a present, wrapping or distributing gifts, please call 334-671-7774.

For children of an incarcerated parent, the holidays can be an especially hard time. Healthy You Inc. is hoping to bring joy to those affected by incarceration with an Angel Tree for the 94 children of the ladies incarcerated at the Houston County Jail.  Volunteers who would like to participate will be given the name of a child, along with that child’s age, interests and hobbies. They will then purchase one present for the incarcerated mother to give to her child for Christmas. The gifts will be distributed on December 22. One of Healthy You’s goals is family reunification and the Angel Tree will give incarcerated mothers a chance to connect with their children for Christmas. The original Angel Tree program was founded by formerly incarcerated Alabamian Mary Kay Beard. Beard held the first Angel Tree for children of incarcerated parents in Birmingham in the 70s. The program is now international. If you would like to participate in the Angel Tree by purchasing a present, wrapping or distributing gifts, please call 334-671-7774.

Statistically, women who are incarcerated are likely to have been victims of domestic abuse. Even before their incarceration, they are often prisoners of bad relationships and unhealthy life choices. They don’t know their own worth. They have never been told they have value. Learning about their own self worth can bring a lot of tears to the eyes of those who are incarcerated. Within the confines of the walls, women can uplift each other when given the proper tools.

When Healthy You Inc was recently invited to present our Active Relationships class to the women at Houston County Jail, the participants not only learned a lot about their own self worth, but they had a little fun as well. One day as my colleague and I approached our destination, we noticed a couple of the clerks outside paying close attention to an object in the flower bed. As we walked closer, we realized that they were feeding a chicken. They told us that the hen had ventured close to the road and they were worried she might be road kill. They called her Jail Bird. She had feathers of rust which reminded me of the orange uniforms the ladies in county wear. Because I live on a small farm and have chickens, I offered to take Jail Bird to safety to live with my chickens after our class that day. When class was over, I was met by the clerks who had Jail Bird in a cardboard box taped and windows cut that reminded me of the old prisoner transport wagons. They explained that while in class, they asked one of the male inmates to catch her because she had headed for the highway. I laughed to myself at the image of this and wondered if individuals passing thought this was supposed to be dinner at the jail that evening. Jail Bird was quiet traveling to the farm and upon release with similar birds-of-a-feather, she seems to be settling quite well into probation, showing her appreciation by contributing an egg or two. The students in the class, however, showed their appreciation by contributing their stories.

“For several years, my life has been an uphill battleground with alcohol. I’ve been in and out of jail. I felt hopeless. I looked for treatment several times, but to me, AA was a way of helping me get out of trouble with the law, just to get the signatures and move on. However, this last arrest opened my eyes a little wider so that I could see. At this time, I got serious about the way I was living my life. Of course, I started AA again but I took it seriously this time. I even started courses through the chaplain at the jail. That all helped and on the day the chaplain came in the dorm and announced that he has started a class and if we wanted to go, come on. I decided to go. It was the best decision I ever made. The class changed my life. ‘Active Relationships’ helped me look at life in different ways, not only from my point of view, but from others as well. I learned how valuable I am. I now know what I do affects others, my kids being number one. My whole outlook on life has changed. I take time to think before I do anything. The class really changed my life in a few short weeks. The instructors are caring and understanding. They didn’t look at me as a prisoner, they treated me with respect and caring. Taking AA and this class is what I needed, because both of them together gave me a new life, a better way of living. Now I can be the woman God wants me to be!” –Rebecca

“This class has helped me understand about relationship with my mother. I have been deaf my whole life. I blamed my mom for a long time but now I can try to get along with her since she realizes that I am trying to change and better myself. I was also a drug addict. I ran to drugs to solve my problems but now I’ve learned that drugs don’t solve it. to use the SMART cards to stop arguing and cool off or give each other time away then come back and talk calmly. I’ve been working on myself in class, she even accepted to go to class with me to work on our relationship! –JoAnna

“I want to thank my facilitators for all they have done for me. I was married to my husband for 10 years. He was not a very nice man at times, but I felt helpless and felt less than. I didn’t feel like I deserved any better so I stayed. My husband died in December 2013. I really felt helpless when he passed. But since I have been taking this class I have become so much stronger. I know now that I am valuable and I do deserve a better life. I do deserve someone to treat me with respect and love. I have learned how to pick out good characteristics, not only a partner, but in people in general. I believe the class has helped turned my life around. I have higher self esteem now and believe I can do anything I put my mind to. Thank you. You are life savers.” –Tina

“I have been on drugs since I was 15 years old. I have been in and out of bad relationships since I was 17 years old. This has all caused me to be in and out of jail and prison due to drinking and drugs. I am incarcerated for a very serious crime that would never have happened if I was living my life right. Since I’ve been here I have taken ‘Active Relationships.’ This class has really changed my way of thinking. I now know what to look for in a relationship, not just with a man, but with my family also. I now know that I am somebody and I deserve better. I thank God I had a chance to take this class.” –Gracie

Kindra Trawick

Kindra Trawick

Incarceration has an exponential effect on the structure of the family. The children of incarcerated parents have to make the choice daily to survive and thrive instead of giving into hopelessness. Faith and forgiveness allowed the four Trawick kids—Kindra, Kerell, Kalon and Kendle—to emerge on triumphant from a desperate situation.

Since Kindra was 10 years old, her mother has struggled with addiction. Kindra, her mother and her three brothers lived with Kindra’s grandmother. The influence of Kindra’s grandmother helped equip Kindra with the tenacity she would need when she found herself alone, responsible for her three younger brothers. Kindra’s grandmother died in January. Her mother was incarcerated on drug related charges less than a month later.

After the death of her grandmother and the incarceration of her mother, Kindra had one more life-altering surprise in store. She went with her 17 year old brother to court for a juvenile appeal. When they got there, they found that court had been cancelled but the probation office had a copy of the police report from the newspaper showing that their mother was in jail. They also had the obituary from the newspaper showing that their grandmother had passed away. DHR was there waiting to question Kindra about the custody of her little brothers. As the questions were sprung on her, the gravity of the situation weighed heavily on 19-year-old Kindra.

“My whole life changed in 30 minutes,” she says. “I was in shock. I couldn’t believe this all happened in one day. I felt like I was in a dream.”

Kindra was given 15 minutes to go pick up her brothers—one from school and one from the baby sitter—and go to court that day or be found in contempt. She stood before the judge as her own attorney and pled her case. She was determined to keep her family together.

“I told the judge I just lost my grandmother, my mom just went to jail. I’ve lost everything and everyone,” she says. “I can’t let them take my brothers. Others have kids at 19 and get help. Please help me.”

Kindra was awarded physical custody of her bothers and DHR had custody. Kindra was required to take parenting classes. She received no TANF or food stamps for the first month. The only assistance she received was a few Wal Mart vouchers. Kindra worked part time at Dollar General. She only received $600 from her grandmother’s estate. When she signed the lease on a place for them to live, she found that she was already in the hole for $1,000 due to her mother not paying previous months’ rent. After six months, they were evicted.

“I had to choose between rent and groceries and I could never catch up,” Kindra says. “The hardest part was being strong for them. I couldn’t have weak moments. I had to be protective even though I didn’t feel protected myself. I was in shock and in debt. I had to make decisions. Some guidance or mentoring would have helped.”

Life was hard for the Trawick kids. Kindra found herself having to act as mother, sister and friend. At first, they didn’t want to mind their sister. But, they all made it to school with no major problems.

“Kalen’s classmates were very nice to him and he was ok,” Kindra says. “Kendle went to daycare, and his teacher always gave him biscuits and syrup, his favorite.”

After the eviction, Kindra, Kalon and Kendle moved in with Kindra’s best friend’s mom and her three kids into a three bedroom house. Despite the close quarters, It was like one big family. Everyone took turns taking care of Kendle. But this arrangement only lasted for five months. DHR intervened to say that they couldn’t live in a house with that many people. Kindra’s mother was in and out of prison during this time and was only allowed to see the kids under supervision. When she was caught defying this court order, Kindra lost physical custody and and another friends’ mother got physical custody of the boys. Fortunately, Kindra and her brothers were able to see each other all the time. Eventually, Kindra’s aunt filed for custody of her Kendle and Kalon moved to New Jersey to live with her. Kendle was five at the time and told Kindra that he didn’t want to go. He wanted to stay with her.

“That was when I finally broke down,” Kindra says.

Rather than succumb to the darkness of their circumstances, the Trawick kids chose to thrive. Today, Kalon is in college at Georgian Court University, studying criminal justice. He loves sports and cooking. Kendle is in the sixth grade in New Jersey. He makes good grades and is close to his cousins who live nearby. Kerell lives in Dothan, works for a moving company and is father to one son. Kindra’s mom is out of prison, has gone through rehab and is doing well. She is reestablishing relationships with her children.

“She loves them to death,” Kindra says. “We are being as supportive as possible. We are forgiving.”

In 2011, Kindra took Healthy You’s Healthy Marriage class. She was the only single person to attend that class. It was there that she realized she wanted to do the kind of work done at Healthy You. Kindra now serves as night manager for Healthy You’s transitional home, Genesis II.

“I wanted to learn how to get along better with people,” Kindra says. “This is my dream job. I will have the amazing opportunity to work with women like my mother. it will be amazing to see relationships grow and manifest.”

Kindra believes that with the proper support, women will renew their relationships with their families and stay out of jail.

“It’s one thing to help them. It’s another thing to understand what families have gone through and the low self esteem of the women,” Kindra says. “I want to let them know their kids still need them. This is the first and most important step of their lives. I take the responsibility very seriously. I’m not here to make a dollar. I’m here to make a difference.”

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By Rosanna Smith

In just two weeks, a home in Dothan will open its doors to help give formerly incarcerated women a second chance.

Kindra Trawick, who will serve as the night manager at the Genesis II transitional home, knows firsthand how incarceration can impact a family.

“I was 19-years-old when my mother was incarcerated,” Trawick said. “I actually had physical custody of my three little brothers.”

Now 27-years-old, Trawick is hoping to be a part of the process in helping previously incarcerated woman, like her mother, rebuild their relationships with their families.

“I want to help the woman get back on track and to know why it is so important,” Trawick said. “They are needed no matter what in their child’s life and in their family’s life.”

Every month in Dothan, 75 women return back to the community after they have been released from prison or jail. Many times, those women do not have any help re-entering society. The Genesis II house is hoping to provide them with the means to get back on their feet.

“Women come out of prison completely beat down, needing tremendous dental work, tremendous self esteem work and relationship work,” said Holly Whitehead, who will be the day manager for Genesis II. “They come out often completely beat down.”

Genesis II is a project of Healthy You Incorporated. After months of fixing up the house and collecting community donations, the home is close to opening its doors. Six previously incarcerated women will be able to stay for up to one year.

“We just think with the right people and right support services, that these women can go on to become very productive citizens of this community,” said Whitehead.

There is an application process to be accepted into the program. The program is funded by a federal grant and from donations from the community.

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