Last month, I had the pleasure of partnering with Tokeitha Wilson of Empowerment Station to provide a vision board and purpose coaching workshop for the DC Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs (ORCA). ORCA’s mission is to provide zealous advocacy and high-quality services and products for the empowerment of previously incarcerated persons to ensure that they thrive, prosper, and contribute to the social, political, and economic development of self, family, and community.
It was truly an honor to serve the women as they work to ‘re-enter’ society. Initially, the vibes were a little mixed in the room. Some of the women had never heard of a vision board while others were extremely excited about creating one for the first time. Mixed reviews initially, but after a few remarks from Tokeitha on the purpose of creating a vision board, we were all in sync. Well, kind of. Although I had prayed and thoroughly prepared for the workshop, I kept wondering how I would make my advice relatable. I mean, I’ve never been incarcerated so I was concerned about whether my words would be well received considering I hadn’t ‘walked in their shoes.’ It’s one thing to understand a person’s situation but that’s completely different from relating.
As we went around the room introducing ourselves, one of the ladies commented that if she had known about the vision board part of the workshop, she probably wouldn’t have attended. She continued to explain that she would have skipped the workshop altogether because she lost her vision along with her self-confidence while being incarcerated. Wow! I thought to myself, “Oh, ok God, I see what you did there, thank you.” I was reminded in that moment that although our stories are different, our internal struggles are often quite similar and unite us when we share. I can certainly relate to feelings of self-doubt and we’ve all dealt with a lack of self-confidence for one reason or another at some time in our life. Ok, maybe you're reading this and thinking, “Ummm, but I’ve never been incarcerated.” Fine, these women are returning from incarceration, but we’ve all ‘returned’ from something at some point in our lives that has left us feeling defeated, inadequate, or even ashamed. Whether divorce, rehabilitation, an abusive relationship, substance abuse, depression, an extended period of unemployment, etc., we have ‘returned’ from something that required us to pick up the pieces, regain our self-confidence, and move forward.
As the women shared their visions, I began to see and feel so much hope in the room! It was transcending to say the least and I was inspired by their goals! I love when that happens...you show up to encourage and leave inspired! During my purpose coaching segment of the workshop, I couldn’t stress enough the importance of accountability, connection, and the identification and removal of obstacles. We should all be accountable to someone but we should be most accountable to ourselves and God. Connections are key so we have to be thoughtful and purposeful about with whom we spend our time. Obstacles are inevitable, but some are often avoidable so we have to willing to quickly identify and remove those obstacles even if they are people we’ve let in our lives.
It was indeed a Saturday morning/afternoon well spent and I can’t wait to see how God moves in the lives of the women ORCA serves.
Empowerment Station & Life Abundantly - Vision and Purpose Workshop for the DC Mayor's Office on Returning Citizen Affairs.