SAN LUIS OBISPO — On Wednesday, May 9 at 2 p.m., the Women’s Honor Farm Sewing Program in collaboration with the San Luis Coastal Adult School presented 39 handcrafted teddy bears made by the inmates to representatives of the Get on the Bus Program. Mary Thielscher, Regional Coordinator of the Central Coast Get on the Bus Program, along with other Get on the Bus representatives accepted the teddy bears.
Get on the Bus is a program of Center for Restorative Justice Works (CRJW), which connects children to their incarcerated parent. Get on the Bus relies on donations like this to make this event free for families to participate in. The program brings children and their caregivers from throughout the state of California to visit their mothers and fathers in prison. An annual event, Get on the Bus offers free transportation for the children and caregivers to the prison, and provides a way to stay connected with their parent after the visit. Thielscher shared that during the visit there are “games, and face painting, and it is hugs and kisses and family time for four hours.” Central Coast Get on the Bus reunites children including those from the North County with their incarcerated fathers at the California Men’s Colony (CMC) in San Luis Obispo, CA.
This is the fifth year the Women’s Honor Farm has donated teddy bears to this event. This year’s teddy bears are all unique with lots of personality and will be waiting for the children as they board the bus after their visit as a way of remembering a special day with their fathers. For some of these children, it will be the only time they visit their father for the whole year.
Senior Correctional Deputy Lisa Piotrowski is instrumental in working with the inmates in the Sewing Program. She has been able to see not only the positive impact that has been made for Get on the Bus, but also the way it is transforming the lives of inmates in the program. Piotrowski shares, “Making these adorable teddy bears for a child who has a parent in prison really struck a personal note with many of the female inmates who know what it feels like to not see their own children. In addition to learning new skills, they are experiencing what it feels like to make a positive difference in a child’s life and give back to our community.”