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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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Daniel Bowes, JD
Co-Vice Chair, Our Children's Place Board of Directors
Child of a Formerly Incarcerated Parent
A Family's Growth Behind Bars
In my second year practicing law, I stood before a room full of young men imprisoned at Polk Correctional Institution in Butner, NC, and experienced a powerful moment of reflection. I was at Polk to discuss available legal services responsive to the barriers to reentry these young men—all between the ages of 19 and 25— would confront upon their release from prison.

While I arrived at Polk early in my legal career, I had presented on the issue of reentry dozens of times—to employers and directly-impacted individuals, on television and radio, in court rooms and statehouses and churches. I should have been comfortable and confident. And yet, as I opened my mouth to speak to those young men, I felt my face turn red. My hands began to sweat and shake. I could not recall a presentation I knew by heart. After a few false starts, I stumbled through my usual introduction before embracing the gravity of this full-circle occasion with words that had the tone of a confession, “I am the son of a man who sat in one of those same seats 30 years ago—he was 21-years-old, had multiple felony convictions, and was about to be released from Polk.”

Even today, having literally spent tens of thousands of hours speaking out on behalf of individuals striving to move beyond their past mistakes, it is often difficult to find the voice to identify myself as the child of a formerly incarcerated parent and effectively convey the complexities of the attendant experiences and emotions.

I was first introduced to my father during his imprisonment. A picture shows me sleeping in my father’s arms, dressed for the occasion in a red suit and bowtie. But he was paroled when I was still very young and so I have no real recollection of his incarceration. Accordingly, I did not grow up seeing my father through bars or separated from him by great distances. Instead, I experienced the less familiar but, in many respects, no less harsh aspects of his segregation. As is common, the long and destructive reach of the collateral consequences of his criminal convictions defined my childhood experiences more than anything else, impacting not only my family’s access to resources and opportunities, but also how we viewed ourselves and our place in the community.
(continued on last page)
What Can I Do?
  • Tell a professional who works with children about the Sesame Street materials focused on children of incarcerated parents. We’d be happy to send a kit (or 2!).
  • Learn more by going to the reading list (recently updated) on our website,
  • Do you know a child with a parent in prison? Let him/her know that you’re available to talk and, more importantly, listen.
Kasserian Ingera! Kasserian Ingera! *
(So, how are the children?)
"Amongst the East African Maasai people the traditional greeting is not 'How are you?' but rather, 'So! How are the children?' The Maasai believe that if the children are well, safety and peace will prevail for all. This powerful notion of embracing our children is also the core for the impactive work of Our Children’s Place."

With that question in mind, Jaki Shelton Green, one of our Advisory Board members, read her amazing poem and we welcomed our guests to our two faith community breakfasts this past spring. Thank you to the Family Justice Center in Burlington for hosting in late May (see picture above) and Antioch Baptist Church in Durham in mid-June. We enjoyed the opportunity to meet new folks, provide an overview of our work, and ask for their support. If your community is interested in hosting a similar event, please let us know ( or 919-904-4286).

To learn more, read

A page from one of our PowerPoint presentations. Interested in one for your group?
Please contact us at (919) 904-4286 or
Life At Our Children's Place
Since our spring newsletter we have been involved in a number of awareness activities including:

Presented to:
Alamance County Department of Social Services
American Board of Pediatrics
Appalachian State University (co-presented)
BECOMING-Durham conference (co-presented)
BECOMING-Durham (mental health awareness month)
Chapel Hill Friends Meeting
Coalition of Prison Evangelists (co-presented)
Durham Partners Against Crime (PAC) 1
Evergreen United Methodist Church
Gang Free NC conference
Graham Rotary Club
IFC Pediatrics
North Carolina Center for After School Programs SYNERGY Conference
Project LAUNCH
State Library of North Carolina workshops – Goldsboro, Henderson, Lenoir, Salisbury
Umstead Park UCC
Vance-Granville Community College

Staffed a resource table at:
North Carolina Association for the Education of Young Children

Thanks for the invitations and for the "let me connect you with . . ." offers!

Do you know what the number one response is we hear from groups?

"I've never thought about these children. Not that I don't want to or that I don't care. It's just that no one has ever asked me to think about them."
What Can I Do?
  • “Like” us on Facebook; we post regular updates, including our upcoming awareness activities:
  • Invite us to speak to a group you belong to. Invite an elected official to join you. Call us at (919) 904-4286 or e-mail at
  • Invite us to write a guest newsletter/blog piece.
  • Invite your faith leader to give a sermon about children of incarcerated parents.
View details
Chris' Corner
As you read through this newsletter, you’ll see that it’s been a busy spring and summer for Our Children’s Place. New officers have assumed positions of leadership in the organization and last year’s Chair has completed her term. Thank you for your leadership, Rhonda Angerio!
Thanks also to Schree Chavdarov who recently completed her time as our Secretary. We appreciate your efforts in that position! Tony Shook is our new Secretary. To round out our Executive Committee, Mark Brown is continuing as our Treasurer with Daniel Bowes and Claire Lyons moving into the Co-Vice Chair positions.
A final “thanks” goes out to Norma Marti, Colleen Bridger, and Meg Scott Phipps who completed their terms this spring. We will miss what you brought to the table – Norma, for your work assuring that children have access to services; Colleen, for your efforts to help us be clear in our thinking about what we do (and don’t do) as an agency; and Meg, for your unique perspective about what it means to be an incarcerated parent.
It’s becoming clearer each day how connected this issue is to so many others in a child’s  life – school, physical and mental health, what the future looks like, and more. Think about how many adults in the community have contact with children – teachers and other school professionals, mental and physical health providers, law enforcement, and more. Wouldn't it be great if all those folks had some awareness of children of incarcerated parents? 

We’re pleased with the number of connections we’ve made and those we’d like to make. Please let us know if there are others that we’ve overlooked. Of course, those include funding connections as well.
As we celebrate a decade of advocacy, the work of OCP is more important than ever. The children of incarcerated parents, 2.7 million nationally or 1 in 28 (ask us about our “1 in 28” stickers), are often overlooked, vulnerable, and without a voice. OCP’s efforts to educate our communities about the impacts of parental incarceration on families and the children who are left behind will help reduce the risk of those children becoming involved in the criminal justice system and reduce the risk of parental recidivism. These efforts strengthen our communities.  As a community, we must commit ourselves to these children so they will thrive and grow toward productive lives. Let’s get to work!
With gratitude,
Chris Blue
Chair, Board of Directors
A Day With Dad
Parent Day at Brown Creek
“I got to spend the whole day with my dad.”
That’s what we heard from several children during our wrap-up “what did you like best about the day?” exercise at the first Parent Day at Brown Creek Correctional Institution in Anson County in early August.
Twenty-one children (ages 5 to 12), 13 fathers, and 14 caregivers gathered on a gray Saturday to paint birdhouses, decorate picture frames (a volunteer took pictures of each family), play corn hole, read books, watch part of the Sesame Street DVD, eat lunch together, celebrate four August birthdays (two children, two fathers) with cake and ice cream, and spend time on the playground (fortunately the rainy weather took a couple of breaks).
Thanks to the American Board of Pediatrics for donating drinks, paper products, board games, books, and lots of great art supplies.
To read about the day, go to
What Can I Do?
  • Donate supplies for the next Parent Day - food, drinks, paper products, art supplies, books, etc.
  • Ask if a prison/jail in your community would consider hosting Parent Day at their facility.
Our Children's Place Under A Hot Tin Roof
Thanks to Mark Bateman and the generous staff at Hot Tin Roof in Hillsborough ( for hosting us at their charity bartender night in late July. A big “thank you!” goes out to our guest bartenders: Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, Board member Ellie Kinnaird, and Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens (pictured above).

It was great seeing many of our ongoing supporters as well as being introduced to some new folks. We hope that you had fun!
What Can I Do?
  • Stop by the Hot Tin Roof and say “thank you!”
  • Let us know of other local businesses that might be interested in supporting Our Children’s Place.
Car filled with donated yarn, ready to go to the women's prison to be made into hats.
Off To Market We Go!
The hats are coming in and we’re getting ready to attend several markets this fall. We’ll post any updates to our Facebook page,
This year, for the first time, we’ll be partnering with MATCH, Mothers And Their Children (, a special family resources center at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women that brings the children of incarcerated women to visit their mothers at the prison.
Funds raised with the hats will continue to support our awareness and outreach efforts as well as transportation needs of children involved with MATCH.
Orange United Methodist Church Harvest Festival, Chapel Hill
Saturday, 10/11, 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
St. Francis of Assisi Church Alternative Gift Market, Raleigh
Friday, 10/31, 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, 11/1, 4:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, 11/2, 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Grace United Methodist Church Alternative Gift Market, Wilmington
Friday, 11/14, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, 11/15, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Sunday, 11/16, 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
United Church Alternative Gift Market, Chapel Hill
Saturday, 11/22, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, 11/23, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Immaculate Conception Church Alternative Gift Fair, Durham
Saturday, 12/6, 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, 12/7 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Saturday 12/6, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church Advent Festival, Durham
Sunday, 12/7, 12 noon to 1:30 p.m.
What Can I Do?
  • Donate yarn! Hat creation happens year round. (See the photo above for a car filled with yarn, ready to go to the women's prison.)
  • Stop by one of the markets, say “Hi!,” check out the materials, ask a question (we love questions!), make a donation in exchange for a hat, and tell a friend.
  • Take a "selfie" of you wearing one of our cute hats and send it to us. We're always looking for new photos!
Sharing Our Inbox
In response to “so, how are the children?” here are some resources you might interested in:

University of California at Irvine study

The Osborne Association's%20Impact%20on%20Children's%20Health%20Fact%20Sheet_Osborne.pdf
America’s Promise Alliance and Center for Promise (see page 9)

Seeing these articles come across our desk and screens reminds us of the impact of parental incarceration on children as well as the importance of making this a community conversation, not just a corrections conversation.
We've also updated our reading/book list on our website,
What Can I Do?
  • Read Knock Knock and watch the YouTube piece,
  • Donate a copy of the book to your local public library and/or school library.
  • See what’s on the shelves at your local library. If there’s nothing there about this topic, ask how we can change that!
Our Wonderful Supporters
A big “THANK YOU!” goes out to the following individuals and organizations for their support
donated January 1, 2014 through June 30, 2014. *
Mary and Mike Andrews
Jonathan and Kristen Andrews
Rhonda Angerio
Rose Azar
Georgia Bizios
John and Jennifer Boger
Watson Bowes, Jr.
Irene and Robert Briggaman
Sabrina Bristo
Mark and Paula Brown
Jeffrey Chambers
Kay Cooper
Marguerite and Francis Coyle
Pat DeTitta
Al Deitch and Alice Scher
Shirley Drechsel and Wayne Vaughn
Connie Eble
Hank and Nancy Elkins
Nora and Steven Esthimer
Marcia Fort
Jim and Elaine Foster
Valerie Foushee
Janice Freedman and Gregory Scott
Maeda Galinsky
Christine Gellings
Jessica Gerdes
Carolyn and Henry Hammond
Gayle Harris
Margaret Henderson
Ann Hillenbrand
Kim and Tim Hoke
Trevor and Christine Hoke
Mark Hollins and Eleanor Leung-Hollins
Carol and Billy Huppert
Chellie Joines
Thomas Kenan
Mary Kincaid
Linda King-Thomas and Henry Thomas, Jr.
Ellie Kinnaird
Solomon Kobes
George Lensing
Amy Lewis
Paul and Caroline Lindsay
Claire Lyons
Anne McNally

David Nichols and Mayme Boyd
Nicole Norris
Frances Olson
Sam Pearsall
Diane and William Race
Margaret and Philip Rees
Rich Rosen and Rebecca Slifkin
Nancy Seaman and Alan Schwartz
Katherine  and Jerome Seaton
Ellen Shanahan
Kathleen and Todd Shapley-Quinn
Tony Shook
Naomi Slifkin and Glenn Withrow
David and Dorothy Smith
Carolyn Van Sant
Mona Vernon
Katie Wakeford
Robert and Lauren Wishnew
Gail Wood, in memory of Wallace Wood

Faith Community
Umstead Park United Church of Christ
IBM Employee Charitable Contributions
Thomas and Ellen Bacon
Rita Bigham Ttee and Eric Bigham
Mathwon Howard
Joseph and Julie Maxwell
Deborah and Tyler Momsen-Hudson

State Library of North Carolina (Parent Day)
Chapel Hill Restaurant Group (Parent Day)
Christine Asciutto
Nancy Rambusch
Susie Wilde

* 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

P.S. There are two organizations with similar names. Please pick us, not the one in CA!
What Can I Do?
Family's Growth (continued from page 1)

It has taken many years of maturation and reflection for me to gain a sense of just how much my father’s scarlet letter maligned our relationship. Growing up, I witnessed my father’s struggles through a very narrow purview and with very little context—and so I watched without really seeing. Indeed, my reexamination of my early experiences is akin to the exercise of an attorney coaxing from an eye witness a truth obscured by bias and misinformation. I would see my father go to work every day and return home tired and detached—I would feel dejected when he said he didn't have the energy to play with me. I didn't understand the significance of him simply being there, having chosen to leave behind old associations and vices in order to dedicate himself to our family. Nor did I realize the exhausting and dangerous nature of his work—excluded from many employment opportunities, he worked for many years in steel fabrication. Similarly, I was there when my family moved from a dilapidated trailer to a brick bungalow but didn’t recognize the fortitude and sacrifices that forged that path. I was merely glad that kids could no longer make fun of me as trailer trash—at that time or ever before, I did not find comfort in the fact that none of my classmates actually realized I lived in a trailer.

Even in a new home and a new school, I never invited friends over. By that time, I had become keenly aware that I should be ashamed of my father. First from television and then from newspapers and conversations, I gathered that he was of a class of people—labeled felons, ex-cons, criminals—who had done things that were so bad that it meant they were bad people. Throughout my childhood and early adulthood, this scarlet letter alienated me from my father’s embrace and obscured his incredible strength and dedication from my view. And yet, even confronted with such antagonism in his own home, his dedication to our family’s welfare never wavered.

For as long as I can remember and still today, he and my mother have consistently told me that I could achieve whatever I aspired to do. At 17, I graduated high school and left Burlington, NC, to attend Duke University, thinking I would never return. Fortunately, the more I experienced the world, the more I grew to appreciate the family I left behind. For all it gave me, Duke was not the passage to the promised land I had envisioned—it couldn't be. Given occasion as much by my feelings of insecurity and indecision as the common college experiences that grow one’s perspective, I often reflected on the nature of my childhood experiences and my relationship with my parents. These reflections continued into law school as I began working with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals. I vividly remember, for example, teaching a legal research skills course to women incarcerated at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in New York and hearing the women talk about how difficult it was to be separated from their children. Hearing their resolve to do better in order to be there for their children, and knowing that my father had achieved that only to be rebuffed by me was, at once, devastating and enlivening. Over the years, such experiences and the reflections they inspire have incited me to learn more of my father’s experiences in prison and his struggles with reentry. After much time and effort, our relationship is now one of acceptance, trust, and mentorship—I now recognize him for the pillar of strength and model of integrity that he has long been.

Standing before those young men at Polk, I was cognizant of all of this at once. Looking out into that crowd of youthful faces, I was besieged by feelings of pride, gratitude, and shame. Coupled with these emotions, though, was a prevailing sense of hope—hope that I could continue to build my relationship with my father and that those young men would soon return to their families and provide the same strength and support to their children that my father provided to me.
Daniel Bowes is the supervising attorney for Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Second Chance Employment and Housing Project and also a staff attorney at the North Carolina Justice Center. He serves as the Co-Vice Chair for Our Children's Place.
Who We Are
Board of Directors
Rhonda Angerio, AIA, Past Chair
Chris Blue, Chair/President
Daniel Bowes, JD, Co-Vice Chair
Sabrina Bristo
Mark Brown, CPA, Treasurer
Schree Chavdarov
Shirley Drechsel
Valerie Foushee
Michelle H. Guarino, MSW, LCSW
Gayle Harris, MPH, RN
Valerie Johnson, PhD
Ellie Kinnaird
Claire Lyons, CFA, Co-Vice Chair
Katherine (Kathy) Roberson, MEd
Richard (Rich) Rosen, JD
Anthony (Tony) Shook, Secretary
Katie Wakeford, M.Arch.

Melissa Radcliff, Executive Director

Jenn Barr, Administrative Coordinator      
Advisory Board
Mary Andrews
Alice Borden
Karen Chapple
Dorothy Cilenti
Dwain Coleman
Sid Eagles
Jaki Shelton Green
Kim Hoke
Joseph Jordan
Florence Peacock
Linda Perry
Meg Scott Phipps, JD, LLM
George Reed
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.
P.O. Box 1086
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
(919) 904-4286
For online donations, go to
Thank you!
Copyright © 2014 Our Children's Place, All rights reserved.

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