Our studentsQuilting in Women’s Prison

Our students are incarcerated women at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF). There is a long waiting list for the program, which accommodates about 80 women.

Many of our students have experienced interpersonal violence and homelessness. Most have mental health and substance abuse issues and quite a few suffer from chronic medical conditions.

The women make amazing changes during the program. They go from not being able to find a quarter-inch mark on a ruler, read a pattern or sew a straight seam to completing three quilts. The goal of this process is to nurture our students’ self-confidence and self-esteem, attributes that we hope will enhance their success at living in the community after release from prison.

Some comments from our students:

I learned patience, and I regained pride by completing something that someone else would appreciate. I also regained a sense that I could accomplish something.

We learn so much. I can even follow a pattern now. Remember when I couldn’t even read a pattern? And I can finally give something to my daughter. I never gave her anything until now.

I live for these two hours each week. I can come in here and it is calm and I feel like I am accomplishing something.

I watch how you teachers relate to each other. You have a bond with each other. I have never experienced that myself and I’m 50 years old. When I get out, that is what I want to do – I want to have healthy relationships with other women.

The quilting program was the first time I felt good about myself since being in prison. When I finished that first quilt, I began feeling better about myself and having some self-confidence. I never finished anything before.

Comments from students are edited to protect their anonymity, and for clarity.