COVID-19 is impacting all of us across the world. Some of us have lost loved ones. Many of us have lost our jobs. All of us are dealing with the impact of social distancing and not being able to touch the people we love.
Correctional facilities have been hard hit by COVID-19. Social Distancing is nearly impossible in many of these facilities. In New Jersey’s state prisons, for example, over 770 employees and more than 2,300 incarcerated men and women have contracted the coronavirus. As of June 9, 45 of the 2,300 incarcerated people infected have died in custody. It is painful for me to contemplate men and women locked up and unable to practice social distancing, being brought this disease and have no recourse to prevent a solitary and premature death. You can learn more by visiting the NJ DOC’s COVID-19 Update page.
As of mid-March Heart to Heart’s programs in state, federal and county correctional facilities have been paused. This is for the safety and health of the incarcerated people we serve and our own trainers and volunteers. This is a great loss for the men and women we serve. Heart to Heart is respondeding with multiple new initiatives.
The men and women we serve are locked in their cells for much of the day now. Movement is significantly restricted. But books are still allowed in. Aware of this one way of still reaching its people, Heart to Heart is collaborating with Puddledancer Press to delivery copies of Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication to anyone who requests it in the correctional facilities in which we operate.
Our second initiative has us working with our returning citizen leaders and supporting them as they take initiatives in their local communities. We are doing this through two Heart to Heart programs that have been transitioned to online delivery.
Related to this, Heart to Heart has started a new online program open to people impacted by incarceration and all supporters of our work. Heart to Heart Executive Director Steve Tumolo is leading this weekly program, meeting on Monday evenings.
In these days ahead, Heart to Heart will continue to assess the impact of COVID-19 on its people and programs and adapt to meet this new moment. Please keep all of us, incarcerated men and women throughout the country, children, parents, spouses, and others impacted by incarceration, and our staff and volunteers, in your thoughts and prayers.
How can I help?
Now is an important time to sustain the work of Heart to Heart with a financial gift. You can give to the 2020 Fund for Heart to Heart (HERE).
How can I learn communication skills with Heart to Heart?
Click (HERE) to register or learn more about Heart to Heart’s Monday evening online webinar, Radical Hospitality.