Michelle’s Friday Project Update: Ferrer Foundation

Today, I am going to tell you about one of our partners that is breaking the prison cycle by offering children of incarcerated adults therapy, support, and hope for a different future.

Organization: Ferrer Foundation
Location: Chicago, Illinois

Context: Did you know that approximately 10 million children in the U.S. have experienced parental incarceration at some point in their lives? In Chicago, children are living in fear of the violence that constantly surrounds them and many have lost hope; they feel they are destined to die young or be imprisoned like their family, friends, and neighbors.

Background: GO Local Hero Meghan Olson is working to strengthen the resiliency and resolve of children with incarcerated parents so they can have hope for a brighter future. Meghan’s kids came to her with heavy hearts, are disengaged, and have an overall sense of hopelessness. Through therapy, support, and field trips, she is showing these kids there is something to live for, that their lives matter, and that they create their own future.

Current Status: In December 2015, GO Campaign approved a grant for $14,000 to Ferrer Foundation to support their therapy and outreach programming to children of incarcerated adults in Chicago. Thanks to GO Campaign’s support, kids have an alternative future to death or jail. They are finding their voice, an outlet to talk about their feelings, and realizing they have choices–their future is not predetermined.

Meet Orlandis
Orlandis is 17 years old. He doesn’t know who his father is. As a child, his mom was in and out of jail. During this time, he lived in homeless shelters or with relatives. All his older brothers are dealing drugs, gang banging, and are also in and out of jail. Staff at Orlandis’ school have seen him panhandle in order to have enough money to buy food, get a haircut, or take care of other basic needs. When Orlandis first joined Ferrer Foundation, he was embittered and extremely distrustful of grownups. He couldn’t look people in the eye. Eventually he started opening up about his life and his fears. With Meghan’s support, he has made tremendous progress. He now regularly attends school, has improved his grades, and has a job.