CRANSTON, R.I. – January 8, 2008 – The Rhode Island Department of Corrections is grateful to two area churches for their generous response and to the volunteers from the URI College of Nursing who sought their support for the Department’s parenting program.
Ginette G. Ferszt, associate professor and psychiatric clinical nurse specialist (and “RIDOC Volunteer of the Year” in 2007) and Debra Erickson-Owens, nurse midwife and doctoral student in nursing at URI’s College of Nursing, have been facilitating an educational/support group for pregnant women in the prisons, working closely with Telisa Richardson, Parenting Coordinator for the RIDOC.
The three women saw a need for rocking chairs to promote bonding between inmates (both male and female) and their babies. In addition, a “wish list” of toys, games, dolls, and books to be used during parent/child visitation periods was prepared by Richardson and shared with the volunteers. Ferszt and Erickson-Owens brought these needs to their church communities and were gratified by the response. Christ the King Church in Kingston donated four rocking chairs and lots of toys and Christ Church in East Greenwich donated hundreds of dollars worth of toys.
“This underserved and often invisible population has many needs,” says Ferszt, who has been volunteering with the RIDOC since 1998. “People want to contribute; they just need a vehicle through which to express their generosity.”