Inspiring Men at the Otero County Prison Facility to See Themselves Differently

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Wings for Life International is a volunteer organization striving to improve the chances of success for people returning to society from prison. The organization  recently paid a two-day visit to the Otero County Prison Facility in New Mexico. The group provided workshops, activities, and training specifically in the areas of communication, finance, and employment.

“It’s basically a workshop,” says Jonathan Pino who’s incarcerated at the facility, “that will help give us some life skills, some additional tools in our toolbox, to help us when we leave our time here at Otero County.”

Anne Edenfield, the workshop coordinator, talks about what she hoped to accomplish.

“So hopefully we’re helping them to be able to not only help themselves, but their families when they go home, and, of course, we’re providing training.”

She hopes their self-talk can improve. “I’m law-abiding, I’m hardworking, I’m a good dad, I’m a good brother, I’m a good neighbor, good husband. And then being able to say I made some mistakes. I’m returning back to society, and I am going to be hard-working and productive, and a taxpayer, even, if you hire me.  And so those are the kinds of things that we’re trying to teach.”

“It’s good,” comments Alejandro Hernandez, also incarcerated at the facility, “not only for our families and our future, but right now, how to deal with living with other personalities and other guys and getting to know ourselves. So, yeah, it’s definitely useful and helpful.”

Mr. Pino was impressed with the volunteers. “To see that there are people on the outside that come in and they volunteer their time to spend with us to help us bridge that gap between being on the outside and re-introducing ourselves back into the community.”

Wings Workshop volunteers express appreciation to the facility for allowing them to visit with the men.

“The staff has been absolutely outstanding. I sent in all the materials that we planned to use. Everything got approved. They were even kind enough to copy everything for us. The chaplain’s been so helpful, the warden, the deputy warden. It’s been a delight. They’re wonderful to work with.”

Mr. Hernandez also praised staff.

“I think for me personally, [it was] the fact that the staff here, when I first got here, the staff saw value in me and saw that I was more than a number. They cared to place me in jobs and programming that goes fit to what I did on the outs, and what I can do in the future. So, it has definitely given me the confidence to say, ‘you know what it’s going to be hard when I get out there, but it’s possible’. I don’t have to come back. And that’s thanks to the staff here.”