We first learned of the PATCH program from a friend at our church. We rode in the church van on our first trip taking six PATCH children. Observing and interacting with them absolutely made us feel we would like to participate as drivers!
Our experiences have been wonderful and touched our hearts more than any volunteer project we have ever been a part of. The PATCH staff is great to work with and the children we have met and transported are amazing. We’ve seen how a mom in prison affects so many members of her family, most deeply her children. And another lesson…how much the children’s visits affect their moms!
The opportunity for the kids and their moms to have four hours of quality time together in a private room is priceless. A time to reconnect, to be close, share the present, and plan for the future. The drive time with these kids, 4 to 5 hours for us, depending on where we pick up the riders, is a time for us to connect with them. They come with individual personalities, unique outlooks on their situations and we enjoyed them all.
Some are so glad to have people to talk to about their lives, and some are quiet, just appreciative of a way to visit their mothers. They have ranged in age from 3 to 17 years old. The older siblings always showed maturity for their age and assumed the role of ‘parent’ with the younger children. We could always tell that the children felt responsible for assisting their mothers in maintaining a straight road while in prison and hoping desperately they would do better when they were released. They all come for a visit dressed so nicely. They convey their worry of ‘will she approve of me’, and all let us know in a variety of ways that they wish it was not so far to see their moms. Some of them travel an hour to meet us and then have a 4 to 5 hour trip, depending on where we might be picking up another one….it is a very long day for all of them.
They are often shy at first, but warm easily with a little conversation and breakfast goodies as we made our way to Chillicothe. They each shared bits of their lives with us. Watching their emotions told us almost as much as what they said. Thinking of moms in prison is one thing. Being with their children for 8 to 10 hours in a car makes it so real and sad.Often they showed apprehension about their upcoming visits…especially if they had not seen their moms for a while.
By the time we arrived at the prison we were usually close enough to get and give a good luck hug or hi-five. When they came out after their visit you could see their sadness to be leaving their moms, but at the same time they were filled with happiness from getting ‘mom love’.
There are few experiences that can equal that of bringing children together with their incarcerated moms. PATCH insures motivation on both sides. The result is gratifying time spent together and a high likelihood of rehabilitation for the moms when they see how important they are in their children’s lives.
– Cheryl and Don Wood, PATCH volunteer drivers
Don & Cheryl Woods
PATCH Volunteer Drivers
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