Last night, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the Women’s Prison Association event, “cocktails for a cause”. It was a major fundraising event and an awards ceremony honoring Jenji Kohan and Piper Kerman. Piper Kerman is the real life Piper (and vice president on the board of the WPA) from Netflix’s original series, Orange Is the New Black, and the author behind the book from which the show is based. Jenji Kohan is the writer behind the brilliant show that has us all talking. And yes, many of the cast members were there. (I’m acting really cool about it now even though I was beyond excited to see them in person – like everyone, I’m obsessed with this show.)
The Women’s Prison Association is “a service and advocacy organization committed to helping women with criminal justice histories realize new possibilities for themselves and their families. Our program services make it possible for women to obtain work, housing, and health care; to rebuild their families; and to participate fully in civic life”.
The event was held at the Boathouse in Central Park, and it was the perfect setting for such a beautiful evening. The speeches were inspiring, moving and motivating. Here is this organization that struggled to fill their event space and get donations; now, thanks to the success of the book and show, the room was packed and the donations were flying. There were board members present who had served since the birth of the WPA, and spoke progress and difference that has been made.
One of the most moving moments of the night was a speaker who accounted her experience with prison time and the effect it had on herself, her family, and her life. It is incredible what these women are capable of overcoming, and heartbreaking to hear the obstacles they face. It really puts my own life in perspective: if these women can find happiness and success after such extreme obstacles, then I definitely can. Hard work and determination will always pay off, even if it takes a while.
I encourage you to check out the WPA’s website to see some of the great work they have been doing and ways you can help. You can also find Piper Kerman’s book on Amazon here and her Op-Ed in the New York Times here.