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Our Children’s Place (OCP) is a private nonprofit agency committed to the children of incarcerated parents. We strive to be a leading North Carolina advocate and educational resource focused on these children and the need for a statewide response to ensure their well-being.
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Murphey School Radio Show . . . An Evening of Wit, Lit, and Music!
Join us on Saturday, 11/21/15, 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
We were so pleased to learn this spring that Our Children's Place was selected, along with Crayons to Calculators, to be the beneficiaries of proceeds from the Murphey School Radio Show on Saturday, 11/21 with shows at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Described by the Murphey School folks as a show that "brings together a wealth of literary, musical, and comedic talent from across the state to produce a fun variety show in the spirit of Grand Ole Opry, Prairie Home Companion, and Saturday Night Live," this event "raises community awareness about the missions and impact of small non-profits in our area and introduces these organizations to new friends-prospective donors, clients, volunteers, and colleagues; proceeds from the show are shared with the agencies."

It'll be a wonderful gathering of talented artists, our amazing supporters, and new friends. This will be the 10th show so look for some special surprises!

Tickets will go on sale in early October. If you're interested in being a sponsor or volunteering, please call or e-mail us at (919) 904-4286 or

We look forward to seeing you there!
The Glue That Kept Us Together
There are a lot of preconceptions of life ‘inside’ helped along by television dramas or movies. It is not a pretty place as evidenced by the shame and degradation inflicted upon the men and women who inhabit this pseudo-world. When I entered the so-called “Department of Correction” I was cautioned by my first case manager that there were two kinds of employees within the prison system. The first knew that I was in prison as punishment. They would not seek to add to my misery until I demonstrated an unwillingness to obey the stated rules and policies; the second believed that I was in prison to be punished, and they LOVED their job!  My case manager went on to caution me that the second group was, by far, the majority.
The average person who enters prison is often overwhelmed by the sounds, smells and just plain meanness of the place. Gentleness and caring are not something you encounter much, if at all, within the walls of any prison. Bereft of what passes for normal social contact and isolated from our families, many men and women begin to build armor to protect themselves from any feelings. The longer you remain within the prison, the thicker this armor gets and the harder it becomes to interact with real people who come to visit, including your children.
My wife, Kathy, and I chose not to have children years before and every day that passed during my incarceration made me all the gladder for making that decision. Seeing the painful attempt by so many to reach out to their kids during the limited time available, and the frustration that occurred on both sides of the conversation was gut wrenching to me. Kathy told me of the things shared by many of the women and their frustrations at trying to keep the family going. Some gave up and just stopped coming, instead sending divorce papers.
Often the guards would add to this by interposing their harsh sense of discipline if the kid got out of hand. Typical of this threat was that if the inmate could not control his kids the visit would end. Picture this all happening in a room with no privacy with hundreds of people trying to make themselves heard over the cacophony of noise. It makes it all but impossible to share any tender words with someone when you almost have to shout to make yourself heard.

Then the all too soon announcement that visitation was over; that all visitors had to leave immediately. Any attempt at any last second affectionate hug or kiss would be met with a growling menace from the guards. It was time to switch off the tenderness and again put on your game face to re-enter the ‘real’ world of prison. The artificiality of visitation was a nice break, but there were times when it seemed to do more harm than good for both the inmate and the family.
There were times when this aloneness together was particularly poignant, Christmas being the worst. This time when most of the world is filled with frivolity and joy, it was just another two-hour visit with every click of the clock bringing the end of the visit that much closer. Some of the camps did their best to make this a special time of year. My last year in prison I was at Orange Correctional Center, and the authorities there approved a program that allowed each prisoner with children to wrap donated toys and give them to their children during visitation. It was an especially wonderful example of grace in the midst of what could otherwise be a harsh, unforgiving place, and that memory will always be dear to me.

The men for whom visitation was the worst were those who did not receive any. I can recall a time when I was sent out of state as part of then Governor Hunt’s program of farming us out to various private prisons around the country. My number came up and, despite the Superintendent’s attempt to keep me at Davie, found me at Limestone County Detention Center in Groesbeck, TX. I’d told Kathy not to come visit as it would involve a journey of about 1,800 miles, and I did not want to put her through that ordeal for a two-hour visit. As it turned out, the pastor of the church Kathy was attending was traveling through the area and received permission to visit me. It was an incredibly joyous surprise, but the guard brought it to an end after 35 minutes!

Visitation could be a mixed bag; the best part was knowing that no matter where the system sent you, that someone loved you enough to make that journey to see you. For those whose families could not (or even more sadly, would not) make that effort, visitation day was one to be survived as each name called reminded you of how alone you were ‘inside.’ The importance of maintaining contact with your loved ones in prison has to be a factor in their successful (or unsuccessful) reintegration into society. Our Children’s Place and organizations similar throughout the country seek to keep those relationships fresh, to remind the men and women behind bars that they are not alone. My own time spent ‘inside’ taught me the importance of family and though those times spent together were all too brief, they were part of the glue that kept us together.

Tony Shook has been on the Board of Directors since November of 2013. He is currently the secretary.
What Can I Do?
  • Think about the language we use to describe a child's parent who is incarcerated. Instead of inmate or convict, how about mother/father, parent or the name the child uses?
  • Do you know a professional who works with children? Tell them about the Sesame Street materials focused on children of incarcerated parents and encourage them to contact us to request a copy. We have provided more than 1,100 across the state in the past two years.
  • Learn more about the Department of Social Services in your community. How do they address the issue of children and visitation?
Welcoming A UK Visitor
We were pleased to welcome Sam Hart, director of Sussex Prisoners' Families in Brighton, in mid-August. Her research trip to the United States to learn about programs supporting children and families with incarcerated loved ones included a stop here in North Carolina. She also visited programs in New York, Iowa, Arkansas, Washington, DC, and California. 

Thank you to Jim Stuit at the Criminal Justice Resource Center in Durham for hosting the meeting and to the following folks who talked about their programs:

Erin Callahan, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle
Kelly Sullivan, Center for Child and Family Health
Sandra Willoughby, Center for Community Transitions (site is under construction)

The afternoon included meeting with staff from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the MATCH director, as well as a quick tour of the MATCH facility.

Thank you, Sam, for including us in your travels! We learned a great deal and hope you did as well.
Life At Our Children's Place
Since our spring newsletter we have been involved in a number of awareness activities including:

Alamance County Guardian ad Litem (GAL) and Department of Social Services (DSS)
Alamance-Burlington School System student support staff
Chapel Hill Pediatric Psychology
Duke Hospital Department of Clinical Social Work
Durham County Department of Social Services Board
Durham County Foster Parents

Guilford County GAL and DSS in-service
North Carolina Association for the Education of Young Children conference

Polk Correctional Institution staff
Vance-Granville Community College child development class

UNC School of Public Health

Resource Tables
Kinston Department of Public Safety KICK-II 
North Carolina Parent Educator Network

Alamance Reads panel
Appalachian State University psychology class presentation

North Carolina Juvenile Services Association conference
North Carolina School Nurse Conference resource table
North Carolina School Social Workers conference
North Carolina Society for Public Health Education conference
Partnership for Children of Lenoir and Green Counties Safe Kids Coalition presentation
Randolph County Department of Social Services in-service

We were so pleased to receive this feedback after one presentation:

". . . advocates had the opportunity to attend an in-service training you conducted . . . they were greatly impressed with the material, to the point that one shared it completely altered their thought process about how best to advocate for children in these situations."

We appreciate the invitations. Please keep them coming! These efforts are a crucial part of our work to create a community where children of incarcerated parents are recognized, supported, and encouraged to share their stories.
What Can I Do?
  • Share with us what changes you've made as a result of a connection with Our Children's Place. Have you added materials to your school's library, passed along information to other professionals, incorporated the topic in your staff training, felt better prepared to talk with a child, other?
  • Is your group interested in a presentation? Call us at (919) 904-4286 or e-mail at to schedule one.
  • Does your organization host a conference? We'd love to submit a workshop proposal!
  • Invite us to write a guest blog/newsletter piece.
Chris' Corner
As I wrote last spring, Our Children's Place has been very busy in 2015!

In June we held our first Parent Day at the Butner Federal Correctional Institution (thanks to Deacon Pat McIlmolye and Trevor Thompson at St. Francis of Assisi for making the connection), a medium security men's facility. Since that time we've heard interest in additional sessions there. This is an exciting opportunity for us! Our next Parent Day is scheduled for Saturday, 10/3 at Orange Correctional Center. Those days continue to remind us of the importance of the relationship between children and their incarcerated parents and the great work of Our Children's Place.

We also worked with a great group of community volunteers to organize a six-week pre-release course for 19 men at Orange Correctional who were within a year of being released.

And our work of raising awareness, of advocacy, and of making important connections has continued.

Our Board spent much of the year developing a strategic plan to carry Our Children's Place into the future. This work has resulted in an organizational focus that balances a continued commitment to advocacy and limited direct service provision with a renewed emphasis on addressing policy matters that impact the children, families, and communities we serve.

And, I'm particularly proud of the commitment of our Board. This year, we have had many conversations about how we advance the great of OCP. Folks on our Board have been engaged in passionate and energized work to develop a quality strategic plan that provides a foundation for long-term sustainability.

And, in an effort to continue the momentum we've created, I'm pleased to note that at our June meeting, our 2014-15 officers were unanimously approved to continue in their roles for another year. Those officers are as follows:

Chair - Chris Blue
Past Chair - Rhonda Angerio
Co-Vice Chairs - Daniel Bowes and Claire Lyons
Treasurer - Mark Brown
Secretary - Tony Shook

Please join me in thanking these Board members for their efforts and commitment! Also at that meeting we thanked three Board members who completed their terms: Sabrina Bristo, Valerie Johnson, and Kathy Roberson.

Finally, I hope you'll join us on Saturday, 11/21 for the Murphey School Radio Show. For more information, see page 1 or go to Murphey School Radio Show. We look forward to sharing the afternoon and/or evening with you!

With gratitude,
Chris Blue
Chair, Board of Directors
Read All About It!
One of the items on our summer "to do" list was to update the Recommended Reading & Viewing and Learn More pages on our website. Check them out!
What Can I Do?
  • Keep sending us materials (books, articles, websites, etc.) you run across! We'd rather receive multiple copies of the same thing than not receive it at all.
  • “Like” us on Facebook; we post updates and links to resources several times a week. Tell us if there are certain types of posts you like better.
Hats Need Homes!
Although the warm late summer/early fall weather is still with us, we are already thinking about yarn, hats, and fall events! Right now our market schedule includes the following locations:

Orange United Methodist Church Harvest Festival, Chapel Hill
Saturday, 10/10, 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

United Church of Christ Alternative Gift Market, Chapel Hill
Saturday, 11/21, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, 11/22, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church Alternative Gift Market, Raleigh
Friday, 12/4, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, 12/5, 4:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, 12/6, 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church Advent Alternative Gift Fair, Durham
Saturday, 12/5, 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, 12/6, 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

St. Thomas More Catholic Church Holiday Shoppe, Chapel Hill
Saturday, 12/5, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

First Presbyterian Church Advent Festival, Durham
Sunday, 12/6, 12-1:30 pm
We'll post any updates to our website and Facebook pages.

Our partnership with Mothers And Their Children (MATCH) will continue again this year. MATCH is a special family resources center within the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women (NCCIW). One of the MATCH programs brings children of incarcerated women to NCCIW to visit with their mothers. Inside the prison, MATCH runs an enhanced visitation center strictly for the mothers and their children to share.

Funds raised with the hats will continue to support our awareness and outreach efforts as well as transportation needs of children involved with MATCH.

Please stop by one (or more!) of the markets, say "hi!" to the volunteer staffing the table, and consider giving a hat good home!
What Can I Do?
  • Clean out your yarn "stash" (a good excuse to  buy some replacement yarn!) or consider organizing a yarn collection. Hat creation happens year round. You can drop off yarn (full and partial skeins, any weight, any color) at Yarns, etc . . . in Chapel Hill and Great Yarns in Raleigh. Thanks to the wonderful folks there for being our drop off sites.
  • Do you knit and/or crochet? Consider making and donating hats to Our Children's Place. We anticipate our hats project becoming more of a joint effort between hat creaters at the women's prison and in the community.
  • Take a "selfie" of you wearing one of our cute hats and send it to us. We're always looking for new photos!
Saying "Good Bye!"
At our June Board meeting we said "good bye and thank you!" to three members: Sabrina Bristo, Valerie Johnson, and Kathy Roberson.

We wish Sabrina all the best as she completes her social work degree at North Carolina Central University and begins her career in social services in VA.

Kathy, we'll miss your Alamance County connections and your reminders of the important role that teachers can play in the lives of children of incarcerated parents.

Valerie came to us when we were focused on a residential facility, saw us through the loss of state funding, and encouraged us on with our redefined awareness and advocacy efforts.

George Reed, one of our original Advisory Board members, also completed his term this summer. We have appreciated his insight and statewide perspective in his role as executive director of the North Carolina Council of Churches, a position from which he recently retired.

We are grateful for the time, insight, and thoughtful approach all four of these folks have provided to Our Children's Place.
Our Wonderful Supporters
A big “THANK YOU!” goes out to the following individuals and organizations for their support
donated January 1, 2015 through June 30, 2015. *
Annual Appeal
Sarah Andrews
Laurie Bazemore
Kay Cooper
Rosalind Rodman
Harriet Warner

Rose Azar
Jamie Begor Zimmer
Kenneth Byrd
Jeffrey Chambers
John Davis
Shirley Drechsel and Wayne Vaughn
Nancy Ferrari
Brandy Fleming
Jim and Elaine Foster, in honor of Rebecca
    Foster, Susan Foster, and Kate Foster
    Connors on Mother's Day

Jean Gross and Donald Miller
Ann Hillenbrand
Ellie Kinnaird
Barbara and Paul Nettesheim, in honor of
    Ellie Kinnaird

Nancy and Erik Rambusch
Naomi Slifkin and Glenn Withrow
Carolyn Van Sant
Jane Williams
Robert and Lauren Wishnew
Gail Wood, in memory of Ada Eaton
    and Marge Eaton on Mother's
    Day and in memory of Wallace Wood on
    Father's Day

Rita and Eric Bigham Ttee
Trishana Jones
Katie Wakeford and Gregg Cusick

Orange Correctional Center Parent Day
Janet and Elijah Flowers                      

Pre-Release Course at Orange Correctional Center
John and Jennifer Boger
Catherine and Christopher Sanford         
Faith Community
Front Street United Methodist Women       
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
St. Philip's Episcopal Church Women
IBM Employee Charitable Contributions
Patrick and Mary Riley, Sonovision, Inc.
Summit House
Yarns, etc.
Inkind - Yarn
Catherine Andersen
Melissa Price
St. Francis of Assisi

Orange Correctional Center Parent Day
Chapel Hill Restaurant Group
Tri-Printers, Inc.
Brenda McNeely-Allen and Dwight Allen
Mary Anne Vanderburg
Jane Williams

Butner Federal Correctional Institution Parent Day
St. Francis of Assisi
State Library of North Carolina

* We’ve worked hard to create accurate lists and apologize in advance for any errors. Please contact us at (919) 904-4286 with corrections.
Smile While You Shop!
Looking for a fun way to support Our Children’s Place? Shop at AmazonSmile. When you do, Amazon will donate .5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to us.
Go to AmazonSmile.

P.S. There are two organizations with similar names. Please pick us, not the one in CA!
What Can I Do?
  • Donate supplies for the next Parent Day - food, drinks, paper products, art supplies, books, store gift cards, etc. 
  • Tell a friend (or two!) about AmazonSmile! Post the link on your Facebook page.
  • Make a donation to Our Children’s Place in honor of a special person’s birthday or another occasion. We’ll send them a note letting them know.
  • Use GoodSearch and GoodShop.
  • Tell us about other fundraising opportunities.
Who We Are
Board of Directors
Rhonda Angerio, AIA, Past Chair
Chris Blue, Chair/President
Daniel Bowes, JD, Co-Vice Chair
Mark Brown, CPA, Treasurer
Schree Chavdarov
Shirley Drechsel
Valerie Foushee
Michelle H. Guarino, MSW, LCSW
Ellie Kinnaird
Claire Lyons, CFA, Co-Vice Chair
Richard (Rich) Rosen, JD
Anthony (Tony) Shook, Secretary
Katie Wakeford

Melissa Radcliff, Executive Director

Jenn Barr, Administrative Coordinator   
Advisory Board
Mary Andrews
Alice Bordsen
Karen Chapple
Dorothy Cilenti
Dwain Coleman
Sid Eagles
Jaki Shelton Green
Kim Hoke
Joseph Jordan
Florence Peacock
Linda Perry
Meg Scott Phipps, JD, LLM
James (Jim) K. Roberson
Kathleen Shapley-Quinn
Cassie Smith
Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, Honorary Board Member

I/we would like to support the work of Our Children’s Place.

Make your check payable and mail to:
Our Children's Place
P.O. Box 1086
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
(919) 904-4286
For online donations via PayPal, click here.

Thank you!
Copyright © 2015 Our Children's Place, All rights reserved.

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