FROM PRISON WITH LOVE A NETWORK PROGRAM CROCHETING INITIATIVE
“This program not only embodies the Network Community Philosophy, it demonstrates another way in which inmates within our correctional facilities are giving back to the Community.” -New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
THE BABY BLANKET PROJECT
In early summer 2014, Network had the great pleasure of presenting twenty beautiful hand-crocheted baby blankets to WIN (Women in Need, Inc.) to give to mothers and babies residing at one of their shelters in the Bronx. WIN transforms the lives of New York City homeless women and children by providing a holistic solution of safe housing, critical services and ground-breaking programs they need to succeed on their own. Happily, the project continues, with Otisville Network Community members energetically committed to producing blankets for homeless women at shelters in Harlem through the partnership of Harlem Grown. The men also create beautiful crocheted caps for women who are going through chemo-therapy.
The Baby Blanket Project: Perspective from Behind the Walls By Alejo Rodriguez, Project Founder and Coordinator
A group of men in Otisville Correctional Facility’s Network Therapeutic Community have spent the last two years learning how to crochet baby blankets. It’s an unlikely hobby occurring in an unlikely place, but when those volunteering for the project heard that the goal was to create blankets for underprivileged mothers, the question of spending time learning to crochet was a no-brainer. The blankets would go to WIN (Women in Need, Inc.), an agency that serves 8,000 homeless women a year in New York City.
Acts of charity seem to build and strengthen character and also remind us of our shared humanity. There is little doubt that in the act of giving lies a lesson about virtue that all people can learn from. But for the Network men in the project, Ronald Horton has perhaps said it best: “I never did anything like this before. All my life, I used my hands to hurt people. When I crochet, it’s a good feeling to know that my hands are now helping instead.” For all those men in the Network Community, the crocheting has been healing. It represents an offender’s commitment to the rehabilitation and reconciliation process and his pledge to use his time to build a better future.