Help Is Overdue
I love being a mentor to others. When staff seek me out to assist with mentoring and easing the prison life of another LGBTQ individual, it let’s me know that I am doing something right. Finally. But, I also get upset with my facility administration. Which, I am a fan of our leadership. (anyone who has as much face time with us as our new Superintendent and is as vocal about inmate led programs as she is, even going so far as to lobby for it….yeah, she’s good in my book)
The reason I get upset? Because 18 months ago I submitted a proposal to facilitate this kind of support facility wide. I have had to scrap and fight and beg to be taken seriously. Now almost all staff know that I am willing to mentor LGBTQ inmates and with some success. So they bring them to me unofficially. Its not really the staffs fault though. They are using the resources available to them to create a safe and healthy environment, so I commend them. But, administration should have already gotten my LGBTQ Peer Support group long ago. Then I can help create an environment for them that promotes healthy interaction. Healthy interactions lead to healthy people in our lives and healthy choices. By practicing a healthy lifestyle now and accomplishing goals while incarcerated you will naturally seek to continue this once released. If I do my part correctly, then they will know how to find a support system once released, even if they currently have no one. These are skills I can outline and help them practice. In addition I can show them goal setting techniques, abstinence techniques, how to avoid being preyed upon and what to do if it does happen, I can direct them to treatment programs available to them like Chemical Dependency and NA, get them involved. All this and more is possible, if I had a forum to do so. Instead these men get introduced to me in secretly arranged meetings and then we still have the same problem of having a safe environment to talk about really difficult topics, like drug addiction, not prostituting yourself and disease prevention.
So its wonderful that I can help at all, I am greatful to the God of all creation for the chance to be apart of healing in others. Its beautiful to watch Gods Hands work silently, promoting healing even in those that do not love Him back. But when am I going to get a real forum? When can I help officially?
Jeff Utnage 823469