Mentoring Prisoners' Kids
Lisa Anderson, 50
Newport Beach, California
What I do
I spend about two hours a week with an 11-year-old girl whose father is in jail. We go the beach, hit the zoo, get manicures together, or see a movie. Sometimes we just hang out: She really loves to eat and play Hangman.
Why I do it
Over the years I've gone to fundraisers for various charities. But I wanted to do more than just go to fancy dinners and balls; I decided it was time to do something hands-on. I signed up for this mentoring program and promised that I'd work with this girl for a year. But I've already decided to stick with it; I want to be involved in her life for as long as I can.
It can be hard to get in touch with her. Her mother is on government assistance, lives in a high-crime area, and doesn't always have a phone. Several times I've had to get other volunteers to help me find her. But kids need consistency, so I make sure we get together. I want her to know she's important to me.
My own father has been in and out of prison for the past 25 years. Even though I was an adult when this happened it was still devastating. Before I started volunteering I was too embarrassed to talk about it. But once I started telling my new pal that she is not her father, I realized it was true for me, too.