Saturday, December 9, was Family Day: A Celebration of Freedom & New Beginnings, an event intended to raise up and nourish all those personally touched by incarceration and working to reacclimate and restore balance in their lives.
Center for Council / Beyond Us & Them hosted this second installment of our annual event with the intention of resourcing hearts, minds and bodies. After a successful event last year, this year’s Family Day provided even more opportunities for fun, good cheer and appreciation.
The sun shone brightly as scores of participants arrived at the beautiful LA River Center, serenaded by the dulcet tones of our friend Ronnie McQueen (of the original Steel Pulse) and his band, INTENT. A tasty breakfast was provided by our friends at Homegirl Café, followed by a delicious lunch.
With the intention of fostering social connection and engagement, participants were invited to engage in 14 dynamic activities designed and offered by reentry service providers and tailored to all ages in attendance. Breakout sessions included:
PS Arts offered an art workshop in creating colorful Moss Landscapes and Wreaths -- and Creative Acts provided a taste of their amazing Virtual Reality experience designed to prepare incarcerated individuals for the complexities of modern life after prison.
Council circles were also offered to all by veteran council trainers Irasha Talifero and Taylor Morgan, exploring storytelling, bearing witness, connecting to our authentic selves and allowing ourselves to receive the regard of others.
After these group activities, a Resource Fair featuring 26 reentry providers empowered attendees with information about the many local resources available to them.
Then it was time for Santa, who arrived with a bounty of holiday cheer. To extend the appreciation and generosity in real ways, this event facilitated the gifting to our community of 225 toys, 75 gift cards, eight tablets and a mobile phone.
Los Angeles is the most populous city in California and is host to the largest number of individuals returning from state prison. There are so many barriers that formerly incarcerated individuals must navigate upon release, including finding housing and employment, the stigma of being an “ex-offender” and the repair and renewal of supportive and healthy relationships with families and friends.
Formerly incarcerated individuals returning home after serving a sentence in state prison -- and their families -- face enormous obstacles in the challenging journey of reentry and must overcome a number of complex challenges as they work to reintegrate into society. We are so very proud and appreciative of our rich reentry service provider community! Our Council Reentry Program sits among a wide variety of providers and is anchored by the Los Angeles Reentry Collaborative, another project of Center for Council/Beyond Us & Them.
We are thrilled to serve as hosts of Family Day, a beautiful celebration of freedom, community and a toast to fresh starts. This heartwarming, festive occasion created lasting memories and opened up the doors for networking opportunities and relationship building.
Here's a brief snippet of sights and sounds from the day:
Read more comments from participants below:
We hope to see you at next year’s event!