Aminah Dorsey takes part in the FACT event in San Francisco.

CDCR’s Division of Adult Parole Operations’ (DAPO) Adult Programs Unit (APU) welcomed a bevy of community resource providers and 49 formerly incarcerated women to the third annual Females Achieving Change Together (FACT) empowerment event Oct. 25 at the Southwest Community Facility in San Francisco.

This event is a collaboration of Bay Area resource providers focusing on the unusual issues women face as they return to their communities after incarceration. They may be mothers coming home to reunite with their children in need of housing, employment, parenting education, substance abuse treatment and physical and mental health services, just to name a few of the needs and obstacles that may be faced on the path to reintegration upon release from incarceration.

Annette Batten, left, and Aminah Dorsey both attended the San Francisco FACT event.

“The FACT event includes family support and empowers our women to take advantage of the CDCR/DAPO programs as well as local resources in the community available to them,” said Sonia Sandoval, Parole Service Associate. “It will help them reintegrate back into their community and achieve a change of a lifetime and become successful citizens.”

The third annual event was the largest so far, featuring more parolees than the first two events combined and nearly twice the number of resource providers.

FACT aims to provide the opportunities for female paroles to find their full potential for successful reentry into the community by developing partnerships between parolees and leaders in that same community.

Women in attendance learned about services offered from 45 community partners, including the Bayview YMCA Family Resource Center, Black Infant Health Center, City and County of San Francisco Work Force Division, City College of San Francisco Culinary Arts and Hospitality Program, Community Housing Partnership and First 5 San Francisco. Three formerly incarcerated women shared their powerful stories, aiming to inspire attendees to set out on a positive path.

Annette Batten share her journey to achieving change. Batten is currently a participant in the Female Offender Treatment and Employability Program (FOTEP), a residential reentry program that links formerly incarcerated women to community services while providing rehabilitative programming and other skills training. Batten share how while she was incarcerated she started doing her homework and research about the various programs in the community because she knew that once she was released she would need all the support she could have. She also wanted to take advantage of programs like FOTEP in the community.

Bernadette Richards discussed how to utilize all available resources to stay focused and achieve change. Richards discharged from parole seven years ago and since then has enrolled in City College of San Francisco, where she is pursuing a major in health education and behavioral health. Her motto is, “Your past does not define you – the labels that society placed on you do not define you either.”

While on parole, Richards would call her agent’s voicemail and Parole Outpatient Clinic voicemail to talk to the answering machine when she needed to reconnect and regain her focus.

Natascha Cox shared her journey from prison to education. Cox discharged from parole and attended college, she now works for Oakland Youth Outreach. She recalled that as she was walking out of prison she made the decision then she was not going to go back. The officer at the gate told her, “See you soon,” to which Cox replied, “No you won’t.”

She came out of prison and enrolled in school; she has a degree and continues her outreach work as an advocate in the streets of Oakland with her outreach team.

Five women participating in FOTEP had a makeover and participated in the Dress for Success modeling show. Hair was done by Erika Jimenez of Skin Essence Salon in Castro Valley, who is also an image consultant and instructor for Matrix hair products. Jimenez donated most of the hair products utilized for prizes and a special gift card from her regional manager, who was once in the same shoes as the women served at the FACT event. Makeup was done by Jessica Perez, freelance makeup artist.

Models Rebecca Lyons, Aminah Dorsey, Brittany Calhoun, Monica Reyes and Batten demonstrated how to achieve a successful and professional look with a few key pieces that can be mixed and matched, and how to present oneself in job interviews and job searching.

Resource providers in attendance

A.A San Mateo County, Adult Probation Reentry Division Gender Responsive program manager, America Works, Community Assessment Services Center, Aging and Disability Resource Center, Bay Area Legal Aid-Contra Costa County Regional Office, Bayview YMCA Family Resource Center, Black Infant Health, Center Point Stop Area 2, Center Point-Oakland DRC, City and County of San Francisco Work Force Division, City College of San Francisco Culinary Arts and Hospitality Program, Code Tenderloin, Community Housing Partnership, Community Works West-Women’s Resource Center, Contra Costa County Library-Project Second Chance, CCCOE-CLLC-CORE Programs, Edgewood Family Resource Center, Excelsior and Portola Family Connections, First 5 San Francisco, GEO-San Francisco Parolee Service Center, HealthRIGHT 360 Programs FOTEP, HealthRIGHT 360-Bridges, Instituto Familiar De La Raza, Mission Hiring Hall-SOMA Office, MISSSEY (motivating, inspiring, supporting & serving sexually exploited youth), Planned Parenthood of Northern California, Safe Start Family Support Center, San Francisco/Marin Food Bank, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission-Workforce & Economic Program Services Bureau, San Francisco State University Project Rebound, Saved by Grace Ministries, Self-Help for the Elderly, Southeast Transitions Clinic, Small Business Assistance Center, Sports Time Officials Charter School, Trades Women Inc., VA Palo Alto Health Care System-Homeless Veterans Rehabilitation Program, West Side Ajani Community Services, WUU YEE-Children’s Services Center, CJCJ-Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, Sutter Health-California Pacific Medical Center & Five Keys School Programs.

Parole, community service providers and female parolees gathered in San Francisco to network and share information.