February 2022 Keeping Connected
As I sit to write this letter, we are all expecting another “bomb-cyclone” which seems to be the new dramatic terminology for a huge blizzard. By the time this newsletter arrives in your inbox we will all hopefully have fully dug out and have power. Also, for those of us who like football, we will now know who we will be watching on February 13th in the Superbowl!
During the High Holidays, I spoke about the spiritual and emotional power of having a sense of purpose. Since then I have tried to be more intentional about some of the choices I have made with my time. What activities could I participate in that would bring me a deeper sense of meaning, as well as knowing that in some small way I had made a difference in someone else’s life? Perhaps these ideas will spark your desire to get involved in a similar vein or motivate you to reflect on what new opportunities and goals you might pursue.
Wanting to try to make a concrete, personal difference in someone else’s life, I have recently started being a part of a pen pal program with an incarcerated individual. I was trained through a program sponsored by UU Mass Action. It is easy to forget the humanity of those who are incarcerated. Whether people are in prison because they have committed a crime, because they did not have the money and resources to provide for an adequate defense or because they have mental health issues and fell through the cracks, many of these people are lonely and have few or no connections in the outside world. As my pen pal David wrote, just the act of receiving a letter is an incredible emotional uplift. It is also a reminder that whatever may have happened earlier in their lives, they are still someone whose humanity another person cares enough about to have a correspondence with them. David and I have been writing about the type of music we listen to and the books we read. He has told me a little bit about his family and upbringing, but in general terms we focus on subjects that help him connect with a broader life than what he has in prison. All the members of my family and several close friends have also become pen pals. We have all found it to bepersonally meaningful. If you are interested in learning more, the next information and training session is February 3rd. I have included a blurb giving more details about the program and how you might sign-up. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you would like to learn more.
Rabbi Shoshana Perry
Become A PenPal to Men and Women Prisoners
There are currently 6,500 male and female prisoners in Massachusetts jails and prisons. Their average age is 55 and many have been incarcerated for decades. Many also have very limited contact with the outside world.
Associated with the Unitarian/Universalist movement, UU MassAction has recently developed the Prison Pen Pal Program to enable compassionate volunteers to correspond with incarcerated men and women in the Commonwealth. https://www.uumassaction.org/what-we-do
Despite the participation of volunteers to date, there are still over 40 prisoners looking for a volunteer pen pal through the program. To try to meet this need UUMass Action has scheduled another Pen Pal training for February 3 at 6 PM.
If you have the time or interest, we’d love it if you could encourage your friends, congregants and family to consider attending the Feb. 3 training. The Zoom program is only 40 minutes and can lead to a remarkable and unique relationship with someone who needs more human contact from outside prison walls.
Here is the link to register for the February 3 training: