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A Small Kindness


Nelson Mandela wrote this about letters he received in prison: “Small kindnesses penned onto paper and tucked into envelopes had the power to cut through massive iron doors and grim stone walls bringing the splendor and warmth of springtime.”

That is the vision of Prison Writes pen pal project, Project Solidarity, which brings together volunteers and prisoners through letters and calls. The goal is to provide “the warmth of springtime” to the prisoner. and enlightenment on criminal justice to the volunteer.

Pictured left to right, Robin, Javon and his mother Cheryl

That worked in my experience. I corresponded with a Javon Boatwright for the past year and in the course of our letters and calls, we established a deep and abiding friendship. We found that we could talk honestly of everything under the sun. I have been inspired by the incredible courage and will and resilience that Javon has demonstrated throughout the very tough years of his incarceration. I hope he has been lifted by the profound respect and admiration I feel for him.

Javon was paroled on July 3rd after 22 years in prison. We have had dinner together twice since then. I have met his mother and a couple of friends, I am particularly close to him now, as he rebuilds his life but we will keep in touch forever.

Our powerful friendship is affirmation that human beings can connect no matter the vast differences that may exist. Prison Writes has made this possible. I am forever grateful to Prison Writes for this wonderful experience.


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Prison Writes is a division of the NYWW

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