In fact, about half of the 1.5 million kids actually see their parents while they are behind bars, according to Sandra Barnhill, founder and president of Foreverfamily, a downtown Atlanta-based nonprofit devoted to helping mainly children with incarcerated parents for 25 years.
“They have all the same anxieties and issues young girls face, and they struggle with the stigma society puts on people that go to prison and their families,” Barnhill said.
When Ané Wanliss, a junior at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Sandy Springs and a Berkley Lake resident, heard about Foreverfamily’s mission, she chose the organization for her Girl Talk community service project. Girl Talk, a Buckhead-based national nonprofit, requires all teen advisors to implement individual programs.
“It’s a [three-week-long] workshop geared toward children who have a parent or parents who are incarcerated,” Wanliss said.
She said her project, Picture Me, helps encourage and empower young girls to “dream big,” and the daughters make holiday picture frames for their parents.
Wanliss’ program was last fall and another will be in November.
“A family friend of mine Gary Pierce mentors people who are incarcerated, so he was kind of my inspiration to do it for children,” she said. “They need something to look up to and to see another child who’s in high school to see what they can become and help lead them in the right direction.”
The girl in her program range in age from 5 to 15, and they were from various parts of Atlanta.
“During some of the most difficult and important times of their lives, their moms and dads are not with them,” Barnhill said.
And Holy Innocents’ senior Gillian Finley, of College Park, who helped Wanliss with Picture Me, said the girls were simply happy to see that other people care and want to spend time with them.
“It was a really good experience because we don’t really deal with kids like that at the school we go to, and it was great to get to know them and help them out a little bit.”
Foreverfamily awarded Wanliss with the Aim High Award Sept. 15, which it gives to a volunteer every year.
“She’s a very dynamic young woman,” Barnhill said. “We’re just really glad that she chose our agency and this issue.
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