Continuing our Watch & Listen initiative, Extra Butter's commitment to using its platform to shed light on social topics that require dialogue and action, here is a local organization in our new neighborhood of Long Island City that we feel deserves attention. Hour Children is a nonprofit organization serving formerly and currently incarcerated women and their children.
In 1986, Sister Teresa “Tesa" Fitzgerald developed a home for children whose mothers were in prison. Recognizing the struggles of these women to get back on their feet, Sister Tesa helps incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children successfully rejoin the community, reunify with their families, and build healthy, independent, and secure lives. In 1992, Hour Children was officially started to carry on that mission.
The name was inspired by the key hours that impact the life of a child with an imprisoned mother: the hour of her arrest, the hour of their prison visit, and the hour she finally arrives home.
Teresa and her team work endlessly to provide education and advocacy for women still in prison, along with transportation and other resources for children to facilitate visitation. An overlooked challenge is how pregnant women in the prison system tend to their new born baby. Hour Children operates the Nursery inside Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, where mothers can live with their infants for up to 18 months, providing infants born during their mother’s incarceration with critical bonding time with their mother. During the day, while mothers are attending school, mandated programs, or working, the infants are cared for in the Child Development Center, which is staffed by Hour Children employees and women who are incarcerated at the facility.
The organization works to help women use their time in prison constructively to improve themselves as parents and as individuals, including parenting education classes, where women explore topics that impact their role as mothers. Once they are back home, Hour Children continues to support by providing for transitional and permanent housing, a community food pantry, and job skill training.
Hour Children also creates a healthy, socially well-adjusted, and academically nurturing environment for kids with extracurricular activities, after-school programs, tutoring, and summer camps.
Their core values provide a beacon for prosperous, unified community:
- Every person has the capacity for change.
- All human beings are worthy of dignity and respect.
- We believe diversity makes us stronger and is critical for our growth.
- One size does not fit all. We provide personalized services tailored to each individual we serve.
- We foster trust with our community through accountability and responsibility.
Stay tuned to our social for news on how you can contribute to this cause in the near future.