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FTC BLOG

My Freedom to Choose skills have helped me every step of the way…

Posted on June 16, 2016, by Kristianne (Clifford) Schell

I’m blessed to have opportunities like this to share about my Education For A Second Chance!!!

Former felons discuss life after prison and overcoming hardship

Our FTC intern Niki Cohen describes her first Freedom to Choose workshop and “Prison Experience” …

Posted on June 16, 2016, by Kristianne (Clifford) Schell

We are so lucky to have this lovely young lady as a part of our team!

“Click here to read all about Niki’s Freedom to Choose Experience”

Nikki Cohen

FTC On The Road Again…

Posted on May 7, 2016, by Kristianne (Clifford) Schell

Preparing for our upcoming Fall Workshops!

Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) September 23-25, 2016

Valley State Prison (VSP) October 28-30, 2016

Here we are.. in the FTC office… so excited to prepare for our upcoming visits to Madera! Another opportunity to surround the participants with the loving service of FTC volunteers.

EVERYONE DESERVES AN EDUCATION FOR A SECOND CHANCE!

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My First Visit in the Free World with my FTC Family!

Posted on May 6, 2016, by Kristianne (Clifford) Schell

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It has been only 3 1/2 years since my release and the date of this most precious visit by Bonnie, David & Angela of the Freedom to Choose Foundation!

Celebrating 3 years on the job! WOW!

FTC and me — still going strong !!!

Pathways to Freedom – Spring workshops for men & women in prison

Posted on October 15, 2015, by ftcfadmin

We are preparing for two projects with two workshops in our new series: Pathways to Freedom.

  • March, 2016– Valley State Prison for Men (VSP). This will be our fifth workshop at VSP, and our first all mentor advanced workshop. The men of VSP were the ones who inspired our fundraiser with their extraordinary donation of $3,087.47! We are excited to report how their dedication is paying it forward so that others can experience this transformational education. Our focus will be: Pathways to Freedom – Emotional Freedom.
  • April, 2016 – Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF). This will be our seventh workshop at CCWF .

Join us in Investing in Second Chances! Donate to our crowdfunding campaign! 🙂

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A day we thought would never come

Posted on July 2, 2015, by ftcfadmin

On Memorial Day weekend a group of mentors, who were all at the very first “Freedom to Choose” workshop in 2004, reunited to celebrate their freedom!

L-R: Caroline, Cirese, Tiffany, Cari, Tammy Sue & Kristianne

Support the expansion of inner freedom – Buy a t-shirt!

I choose peace t-shirt

 

Success in the “Free World”

Posted on March 19, 2015, by ftcfadmin
Guest blog author: Nancy Staack, Volunteer

“This could be me, my sister, my mother,” I remember thinking the first time I sat across from a woman at Valley State Prison for Women at the first Freedom to Choose workshop in 2004. After eagerly raising my hand to be a part of the volunteer team, I had no idea what to expect when I walked into a prison. But I do know I didn’t expect I would so completely relate to the women I came to know over that first weekend.

Like most people, I had my own ideas of what “those people” in prison were like, and it certainly wasn’t like me. I’d never been arrested, no family members served time in prison and I didn’t hang around criminals. We were worlds apart. Or were we?

I heard many stories about their lives and what they had endured – unimaginable abuse, feelings of no self-worth, homelessness, poverty and more – and how, because of their choices, they found themselves in prison, many with life sentences. And few (if any) skills to help them cope with life, create good relationships or make better choices. As I listened, I thought I could never have endured what so many of the women had experienced.

Volunteering over the past 11 years and several thousand participants, I’ve seen and heard about the positive impact that FTC has had in the lives of both women and men. I’ve heard about changes that people have made to improve their lives and relationships in and out of prison. I’ve heard how the atmosphere in the prison continues to improve as participants return time and again to learn more skills. I’ve made friends, witnessed profound growth, and seen improved levels of self-confidence and self-respect in the men and women who attend FTC workshops.

I’ve also seen many people be released and successfully create new lives in the “free world.” Among them:

  • Kristianne Clifford, who served 18 years, is now a program assistant for FTC. While in prison, she created & facilitated a variety of self-help and recovery programs, completed the first Female Offender Certification Program and earned her CAADAC drug and alcohol counselor certification. Kristianne is planning to begin a master’s degree program this fall. She is also featured in the award-winning documentary.
  • Kelvin Williams, who was released last year, said that the skills he learned gave him the ability to open up and express himself more freely and know that it was okay to share the deepest part of himself. Upon his release, Kelvin founded A’isha’s House, a nonprofit foundation to create homeless shelters for homeless and at risk youth, and transitional housing for parolees. To learn more about Kelvin, A’isha House and Kelvin’s upcoming fundraiser Sat, March 21, 2015, visit his website: aishaacademy23.org.

I have learned more than I ever imagined possible about opening my own heart, trusting, human kindness, the power of forgiveness, taking responsibility, freedom from judgment and the depth and power of love.

Worlds apart? I don’t think so. We make different choices, go different directions in life, but we are all the same. We all want to be heard and to feel that we matter. That we are worthy and that we are loved.

— Nancy Staack, FTC Volunteer
“It’s impossible,” said Pride. “It’s pointless,” said Reason. “Give it a try,” whispered the Heart.

Pathways to Freedom – Spring Workshops for Men & Women in Prison

Posted on February 5, 2015, by ftcfadmin

We are preparing for two projects with two workshops in our new series: Pathways to Freedom.

  • March 28-29, 2015 – Valley State Prison for Men (VSP). This will be our third workshop at VSP, and the men have written to us telling us they are eager for our return.
  • April 11-12, 2015 – Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF). This will be our fifth workshop at CCWF. We will be able to work with approximately 250 participants. With additional funding, we could increase the frequency of our workshops to support all of these women in bettering their lives and teaching others around them the skills they are learning for leading peaceful, responsible lives.

I choose love t-shirt

Support the project – Buy a product!

 

Thanks to Volunteers for Partnering in My Success

Posted on January 7, 2015, by ftcfadmin

This is an article written by Marlene Miller for a recent inmate newsletter. She paroled in December 2014 from Central California Women’s Facility.

My Journey with Freedom to Choose

By Marlene Miller

My first Freedom to Choose workshop was not by my choosing. The decision for me to attend was actually made by my roommate back in 2007 when I was at VSPW. I have to be honest. I really didn’t want to do it, but if anyone has ever met Kristianne Clifford, you would know that no matter how much you protested on doing something she signed you up for, she always won. ALWAYS!! And because of her, I was able to really begin my journey of healing, self-forgiveness, and becoming honest with everyone, including myself, on why I was in prison. This past October 25 and 26, I attended my 15th Freedom to Choose workshop.

In 2007, when I first entered the visiting room, I was greeted by warm, loving, and excited people. At first I thought, “What kind of cult is this?” What I didn’t know was that I was in for the most in-depth time I would ever have in prison. During the next few days, I worked in “trios” on issues I had not faced in a very long time. At first I was hesitant on how much I wanted to share because after all, I felt I was going to be judged. This was not the case. I was welcomed with opened arms and non-judgmental support. This is why I kept going back.

For the next 7 years, I worked on myself and the issues I had kept buried for so many years. I have been able to forgive those who hurt me in the past, let go of any and all false beliefs, and most importantly, forgive myself for the hurt, guilt, and shame I have been caring for the past 19 years when it came to my crime. I was able to get the deepest healing and be able to be at peace with my life. The lessons I learned though this workshop also helped me when I went in front of the Parole Board and was found suitable for parole. Because of this workshop, the USM volunteers, and amazing inmates I was allowed to work with, I have been able to find myself. When I first entered the Freedom to Choose world I was a lost individual. Today, I have found a purpose for my life. I highly recommend this workshop to anyone who has felt the way I have. You will be in for the journey of a lifetime.

Addiction Workshop / Fundraiser for FTC

Posted on September 25, 2014, by ftcfadmin

Our co-directors, Drs. David and Bonnie Paul, will be facilitating a new addiction workshop sponsored by Ken Starr Addiction Medicine Group on October 11-12, 2014 in Morro Bay, CA. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to FTC. This workshop is open to the public, geared towards individuals and their families who have experienced addiction. For more info, please visit their website.