At UMOM, we are fortunate to receive donations from a number of generous groups in the community including a variety of church groups, corporate committees, youth groups and girl scout troops. One afternoon, we were contacted by the Florence State Prison because they were interested in doing a fundraiser for UMOM’s Tumbleweed* youth. This was a first for us, but we were grateful to be selected by the Prison’s Betterment Committee, a group of inmates who meet weekly to discuss how they can enhance the experience of being incarcerated for their fellow inmates as well as how they can do good for the community outside prison walls.

The recommendation to choose Tumbleweed as the benefiting nonprofit came from one of the men on the Betterment Committee who had learned of Tumbleweed when he was younger. We recently had the opportunity to go and meet with the group of inmates at the Florence State Prison who held the fundraiser for Tumbleweed. They held the fundraiser by donating a portion of the sales from items purchased on the commissary list. Although they’ve held fundraisers before, this time, the men were able to choose what charity they wanted the proceeds to go to and they selected UMOM’s Tumbleweed youth.

During our visit with the Betterment Committee, one inmate spoke about this experience and shared that they hope their donation of $17,000 can positively impact youth who are facing similar challenges that many of them once faced when they were younger.

He addressed his fellow committee members, prison staff and two UMOM staff members. “The Betterment Committee and new programs like it are a huge step forward for us,” he said. “Believe me when I say coming to prison makes you feel so alienated from the outside world. You can feel like everyone out there has forgotten about you. But these programs are allowing us to participate in that world. Giving us the opportunity to help those in need. This is why we chose the Tumbleweed program. These good people get up every day and face the growing problems our country’s children have. A lot of us were those children at some point in our lives. Homeless, lost, not knowing what to do so we turned to drugs and crime. Not having a person to guide us to a better life. Not having someone to care about us.”

Thank you to the members of the Betterment Committee and the staff of the Florence State Prison for your generosity and thoughtfulness! Your donation will make a difference in the lives of the youth and young adults we serve!

*Tumbleweed is a service of UMOM with a mission of helping young people move from the street to self-sufficient adulthood. UMOM offers a variety of resources to teens and young adults including a Youth Resource Center, job training and placement and safe places.