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Sr. Theresa Harpin

San Luis Obispo, CA

The first woman I met in our County Jail four years ago had just said goodbye to her son, her only son who was sent off to another state for high school because she was just sentenced to 8 years in our jail. Dixie had been in and out of the system for the better part of her youth and adult life.  This time was different.  

She was 40, sick and tired of her lifestyle and devestated by the loss of her son due to her choices and incarceration.  She came into our program space and sat in the corner weeping. I went over to her and asked if she would like to talk or if she wanted to pray.  This began a new relationship for both of us. Dixie went back to her cell in maximum security and I went home changed.  Dixie says that night she decided to make the change that was necessary to leave her lifestyle and get her son back into her life.  Dixie began programming with us in every opportunity that came her way: Art Classes, Yoga and Meditation, Book Studies, Alternatives to Violence workshops, Sewing Projects, Speakers Forums and more.  

Last January she was granted Sheriff's Parole and went into sober living and joined our reentry Mentoriship Program.  Soon she became the House Manger and two months ago we hired Dixie on our staff as our Community Outreach Coordinator. Dixie has been such an incredible asset to Restorative Partners, our agency which helps to heal and help those impacted by crime in our County.  She is facilitating programs that she learned in jail, now on the outside. She is assisting with our training mentors and accompanying mentees.  

As I see our Holy Father reachout to those behind bars it gives me support and enthusiasm for following in his footsteps.  Most who dealt with Dixie in the system would not bet on her situation turning around. But with great courage, love and accompaniment she is on a new and exciting path. Her son was recently reunited with her and is in workshop with her to become a facilitator in Alternatives to Violence training.