Take a moment to #turnthepage and read the tear-jerking stories of our clients, donors and volunteers about the reasons they became apart of the T.O.R.I. program and the life-changing impact the Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative has had on their lives.
T.O.R.I. DONOR & VOLUNTEER
“I’m a proud T.O.R.I. Donor.” Donna explains with the brightest smile.
Donna isn’t just a donor. She’s a volunteer. Each week, Donna appears in the office and sorts the correspondence the program receives from the incarcerated.
Through Donna’s hard work, the program can ensure these inquiries reach their desired recipient.
“Sometimes these letters are for the Executive Director. Sometimes, they are for Bishop T.D. Jakes. Mostly, they are people seeking information on how to join the program. Those are where I get to shine!” Donna says as she laughs.
What Donna does for the T.O.R.I. program may sound simple, but it is an integral part of what the T.O.R.I. program does. For those seeking more information about how to join the program from prison, Donna can write them a personalized letter with specific instructions. She also includes an intake form and a brochure. This information is vital in ensuring those seeking services can connect immediately.
Donna was never incarcerated, but she knew the feeling of isolation. As a young child, she was placed into foster care and adopted by a family with six biological children. They cared for her and provided a wonderful childhood, but she rarely felt like a genuine part of the family.
During that time, she turned to writing for comfort. The joy of writing stayed with her through adulthood. When a close friend was arrested and incarcerated, Donna began searching for ways to help those coming home from jail and prison, and she found T.O.R.I. She calls the day each week that she appears to volunteer the highlight of her week.
“The biggest reward I’ve ever experienced while volunteering occurred a few weeks ago. I was sitting here working on my letters, and a man walked in the door. He was holding the letter that I had sent out months prior. As he spoke with the intake referral coordinator, I could hear how much his letter meant to him. He asked who wrote the letter, and if he could meet me. I’m so glad I happened to be there. He hugged me, cried, and just kept saying thank you. I didn’t feel like I’d done much, but it meant so much to him.” Donna reflects.
Indeed, volunteers are the heart of the T.O.R.I. program. Their dedication, time, and the unique skillsets that they bring to the organization are a big part of changing the lives of men and women coming home from jails and prisons. Donors have an even more vital ability to impact tangible outcomes for T.O.R.I. clients facing hardship.
“The volunteer work I do is so important to me, but what’s more important to me is another way that I support T.O.R.I. – I am a recurring donor. Even before I could donate my time, I went on the website, clicked DONATE, typed in my amount, and made it monthly. I only work part-time, so I can’t donate much, but every little bit helps. I know this because I have seen it in action.” Donna says.
If I have any advice for anyone considering supporting T.O.R.I., I will say, “Just do it, and if you can afford to be a recurring donor, do that, too. Your donations might even buy the stamps, and I promise they will be attached to some impactful letters!”