Lives Transformed by WAM

W hen WAM first worked with Mary in the summer of 1990, she had been arrested and charged with the sale of a controlled substance. The arrest left her 14-year-old daughter in charge of 2-year-old twins and a 4-year-old sister. Frightened that her children would be separated by foster care, Mary kept the situation a secret for a year and instructed her children to do the same. When WAM became involved, the organization contacted a family member who immediately took the children into her care. WAM also arranged for a church to “adopt” the family, sending the children food, clothing, and Christmas toys.

Mary was in jail for 6.5 years. During that time, WAM remained involved in her life providing support and counseling. The group sent her personal care items and food, and arranged for a peer partner to write and visit her regularly. The peer partner also advocated on Mary’s behalf with the District Attorney, who reduced Mary’s sentence to 6.5 years to life from the original 15 years to life. While in jail, Mary obtained her bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science. Upon her release, WAM helped Mary access housing where she could relocate with her kids. Today, she is a full-time employee of Women’s Advocate Ministry. As Mary puts it: “I am still struggling to provide for my family’s basic needs, but I am happy that I am working, paying taxes, and proving that I am a productive citizen.”

Anna was arrested in 1984 and charged with robbery, burglary, and fraudulent accosting. She had been in and out of the system for years due to her drug addiction, and she had no contact with her family. After she became involved with Women’s Advocate Ministry, the director attended each of her court appearances, explained to her what was happening with her case, and provided support and counseling. In her own words: “Knowing she was involved lightened the burden of the situation.” Anna was convicted and sentenced to four and a half to nine years in prison. Once in prison, she contacted her family with WAM’s help, wrote to her mother periodically, and got a job in the prison library. At Bedford, WAM connected Anna with volunteers Raymond and Diane Leech, who visited her frequently and served as liaisons with her family. In 1989, she was paroled to the Leech’s home, and obtained a job in a small law firm. In 1991, she was hired by an insurance brokerage company and has since been promoted from secretary to executive assistant to the manager of her department. That year, she was asked to sit on WAM’s Board. “WAM has been instrumental in helping me get my life and my family’s life in order.”