There’s a wonderfully heightened spirit of giving that’s everywhere during the holiday season. I think that’s why I love it so much. It’s the one time a year when—collectively–we pause to reflect on all we have, and to think about how we can help those who aren’t as fortunate. That’s why I’m such a champion of #GivingTuesday. Now in its 8th year, this day of giving is fueled by the power of social media and collaboration, supporting giving and philanthropy across the globe. It’s an incredible opportunity to empower those who need it most. And my charity of choice is, the non-profit that does this so well, the Arouet Foundation. Let me explain why.
At Televerde, we are reminded of our good fortune every day, all year long. You see, four of our nine call centers are staffed entirely by women in the Arizona State Prison complex in Perryville. We have a fifth call center run by women in the Indiana State Correctional Facility in Rockville. These women are bright, articulate, talented, yet humble, thankful, kind and compassionate. They own their mistakes, they want a second chance to prove they are better than the worst decision they made on the worst day of their lives, and what’s more, they have a burning desire and commitment to never return to prison.
The Televerde business model enables these women to find and fulfill their potential while in prison. It’s huge! Women describe their work with us as the first time someone has ever believed in them. We push them harder than they’ve ever been pushed, we reward their successes, and we help them see all that they can be. The transformation from just a prison number to tech-savvy sales and marketing professional is amazing (my colleague Valerie Ochoa is one of thousands of stories I can share that underscores how our model helps change lives). But the work we do on the inside is only half the battle. There’s work that needs to take place leading up to and following their release. That’s where the Arouet Foundation comes in.
In 2011, Arouet was launched to provide services to our Televerde women following their release from prison. The goal: to reduce recidivism, which breaks the cycle of incarceration, rebuilds families, transforms communities and strengthens the economy. All wins! (And it works: While the national average for recidivism is well above 50%, for women of Televerde, it’s a remarkable 6.1 percent).
For more than seven years, with both pre- and post-release programs, Arouet has helped women tap into their own strengths, identify viable career paths and establish stable, self-sufficient lives outside of prison. Through education and employment services, mentoring, wellness and behavioral health, and life skills development and advocacy, Arouet works towards creating a society in which every formerly incarcerated woman can successfully reintegrate and become a productive member of society.
Today through the end of December—and for that matter, year-round—we hope you’ll be inspired to consider Arouet as your charity of choice. Donate today in recognition of #GivingTuesday and second chances.
Let your social networks see how you are working to reduce mass incarceration in the U.S. We encourage you to share your stories on social media using the hashtag #ArouetforGood.
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Author: Michelle Cirocco
Joining Televerde in 1999, Michelle Cirocco is now the Chief Social Responsibility Officer. She works tirelessly to advocate for social change through for-profit businesses. Follow on Twitter. Connect on LinkedIn.