Habitat Prison Partnership Teaches Women New Skills, Builds Confidence
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Habitat Prison Partnership Teaches Women New Skills, Builds Confidence


Habitat for Humanity of Rhode Island – Greater Providence, Inc. and the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC) have teamed up for the Habitat Prison Partnership, a program that gives select inmates from the Dorothea Dix Women’s Minimum Security Facility the opportunity to learn valuable skills and give something back to the community by helping to build a home with a deserving family as part of a women’s volunteer construction crew.

The team of volunteers from the Dix facility varies slightly from week to week but includes up to 12 female inmates who work on-site at the future home of the White family located at 815 Potters Avenue in Providence. The women are assigned to the project by Correctional Officer Grace Ellis and accompanied and supervised by Correctional Officer Danilo Claros.

The project is part of Habitat for Humanity’s First Families Building Homes Across America program in which governors, their spouses, and other local and state-wide leaders roll up their sleeves with Habitat and women volunteers to construct new homes with a family in need in every U.S. state and the District of Columbia. The honorary chair of this particular project is First Lady Suzanne Carcieri, who attended the Wall Raising in September along with the Governor and other elected officials.

First Families Building Homes Across America officially kicked off in May 2006 in Mobile, Ala., and continues through 2007. All First Families homes are part of Habitat Women Build, a program that encourages women to get involved in the construction of Habitat homes.

The Potters Avenue home is on an accelerated schedule and is expected to be complete in March 2008. It is being built with Sheila White, grandmother of one and single mother of five children, ages nine to 21. As is customary with Habitat homes, the Whites are participating in the build.

“We are very excited about this partnership with the women’s prison,” says Kathy O’Malley, director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Providence Women Build. “It gives the women the opportunity to learn new skills, and to build their confidence through teamwork.”

Carole Dwyer, warden of the women’s facilities for the RIDOC, is equally enthused about the project. “It gives the women hope and makes them feel they are making a difference,” Dwyer notes. “Not only is the project providing them with important skills that could help them find work in a growing field for women upon release, it’s also helping them build positive relationships, something that’s been lacking in most of their lives.”

The home will add to the more than 1,000 Habitat houses built by women crews throughout the country. The Women Build program, underwritten by Lowe’s, brings women from all walks of life together to learn construction skills and use those skills to be part of the solution to poverty housing.

About Habitat for Humanity “Families living in substandard housing is socially, ethically, morally, and economically unacceptable!” (Millard Fuller – Founder of Habitat for Humanity).

Habitat for Humanity of Rhode Island-Greater Providence, Inc. been engaged in building simple, affordable homes for working families in Providence neighborhoods since 1987. Organized as a not-for-profit corporation directed by an all-volunteer Board of Directors and a three-person administrative staff, Habitat Providence “mirrors” the goals of Habitat for Humanity International by working to eliminate substandard housing in Rhode Island not only by building houses, but also by collaborating with other community-based organizations dedicated to improving housing conditions in the city and by strengthening the communities. For more information, visit www.habitatprov.org.

About the Rhode Island Department of Corrections The Rhode Island Department of Corrections includes the state’s seven prisons and one jail and supervises approximately 3,900 incarcerated offenders and nearly 27,000 Rhode Islanders on probation and parole. Under the leadership of Director Ashbel T. Wall II, and in partnership with agencies at the grassroots, local, state, and national level, the Department’s mission of public safety includes a strong emphasis on breaking the cycle of recidivism by providing offenders with the tools and skills they need to make a successful return to their home communities upon release.


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