Thank you from the State of Maine Department of Corrections
I am writing this letter on behalf of Catherine Mossman Wilson, who has been a volunteer at our facility for almost 5 years. Catherine contacted my office in the fall of 2013 to see what support and hope she could offer to our female residents, specifically around trauma. Many of the young women we work with are victims of severe neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Many have lived with the effects of generational poverty, generational involvement with criminal justice system, and generational involvement with substance use. It can be very difficult for them to see a future in which they are happy, healthy, law abiding, and contributing members of their communities. We want our young people to feel like they are more than the mistakes they have made. We do this, in part, by connecting them with positive, caring community members, such as mentors and tutors, as well as by exposing them to new things, such as music lessons, team sports, and theater.
Catherine is an advocate for, a motivator of, a shoulder to lean on, and a source of strength to our residents. She is also a survivor. All of these make her the exact type of person who can positively impact our population. She has served at Long Creek in a number of capacities: a mentor, a group facilitator for survivors of abuse, and a support to young women who have been involved with sex trafficking. Catherine is compassionate, but she also empowers our young women to take personal responsibility for what the future holds for them. The young women learn that they have power. And choices. And she has been in their shoes, so they listen to and respect her. She validates their feelings of disgust and shame, and also validates what may have felt good to them, even under abusive circumstances. They learn the importance of caring for themselves emotionally and physically. To take care of themselves first, because they are worth it.
I am grateful to Catherine for giving her time and for sharing her story, especially the part about how she is a thriving, real, and inspirational woman. I know our young women are, as well.
Chief of Volunteer Services
Long Creek Youth Development Center
October 17, 2018