Nicole Price is our Women In New Directions (WIND) Program Coordinator. WIND helps women transition from prison back into our community, and helped 26 women last year navigate post-incarcerated life.
We sat down to interview Nicole about her program. For more information about WIND, or to ask for help, click here.
To read about the success of one of our program participants, click here.
How do you find the women you work with?
I generally pass out information packets to transitional homes and give workshops at homeless shelters. The organization Consultants for Change is a big help in getting the word out to the women who need support services the most after coming out of prison.
What challenges do these women face?
Just a few of their external challenges are finding jobs, housing, childcare, getting transportation to and from interviews, and basic skills (things like using a computer).
Internally, the biggest challenge is self-esteem. Many women experience tunnel-vision and get discouraged when they experience a setback. They also struggle with basic life skills like conflict resolution and overcoming resentment.
Too often they also begin to internalize the labels placed on them such as “homeless” or “convict” and begin to use them for themselves. A big part of my job is helping them remember that this is something that has happened to them, but it doesn’t need to define them.
Does prison lead to a big change in how they see themselves?
It depends on how long they’ve been there. Prisons don’t always have the best people working for them and they take it out on the women stuck there. It creates a barrier of trust when they come out because of how inhumanely they’ve been treated.
Do a lot of women have success coming out of prison?
It’s a very long road and many women struggle with accepting that a change actually needs to happen. They’ve been in a routine of unhealthy and self-harming actions that have seemingly worked for years so they’re hesitant to try anything else, especially if they have a chance at failing. It’s all about getting them to a mindset of being willing to work for it.
What is the most important thing you do for them?
Being there and being available. I promise them that I can help and I need to keep that promise. I can’t have them coming into the office and asking for me and then finding out I’m not there, then giving up and leaving: I could lose their trust.
They need my attention, time and dedication because I may be the only person willing to give it. I always remind the ladies that they’re never at a dead end, there’s always an option to try. I encourage them and provide them with options to pursue, and I’m there for them at every step of the way.
What do the ladies seem to struggle with the most?
It’s all about the fear of failure. When something doesn’t work, it’s followed by disappointment and discouragement. For most people it’s easy to bounce back after a failure, but these women already have such low motivation and self-esteem that it really hits them hard.
The thing I struggle with the most with these women is getting them to commit. We require a lot of their time because our services cannot be taught and internalized by coming in once a week. We provide addiction services, help with finding a job, and a cognitive restructuring program.
Thrive DC wants these women to succeed; but to do so, it’s partly on us and mostly on them. It’s hard to get them to that place to commit to our extensive program.
That we still have women who are willing to bounce back after they lose a job or relapse with their addiction. If they are still committed to achieving success after all that they have been through, it makes me want to work that much harder with them to help them achieve their dreams.
It’s especially encouraging when women ask for help after they have found some stability, but before they reach a crisis. It’s hard to ask for help, and it’s a healthy sign that our women are gaining control over their lives and are self-aware to know when they need help. And I’m happy to give it to them!
Running the WIND Program is a full-time job and a half! If you would like to volunteer and help Nicole, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator Greg Rockwell directly at (202) 503-1528 or [email protected]. If you would like to support our efforts financially, you can donate directly by clicking here.