"Sisters That Been There" Graduates Their First Class

Steeda Mcgruder was incarcerated with a dream to help the women she was locked up with to find themselves. That dream has been made real with her counseling group "Sisters That Been There". Here is the commencement by Steeda from the first graduation.

She tells us with her first blog at http://sistersthatbeenthere.wordpress.com/ about the journey it has taken her and the women she has had the privilege to work with and the power of where that work has taken her and them.

Commencement From The First STBT Graduation by Steeda McGruder

“Graduation” in the American culture is usually a indication of completion of some sort. In choosing the right words to represent the work “Sisters That Been There” is doing I had to experience the first cycle of women.

What I can tell you is that I’ve had the honor of watching these women crawl out of survival mode and reach a level of living, ready to be present in the community in learning and living to fit in that same community they once rebelled against.

I believe it is important to celebrate and honor the work these women ARE DOING in their life. These women have had to tap into a power they didn’t even believe they had. That faced the tremendous question: how do you believe in something you don’t know exists? And remembering that change takes courage and these women have worked to find that because there lives depend on it. They have a deep desire to not return to jail.

Women like us have always believed in the “sheroe” and hoped that one day someone, woman, man, child, criminal justice system would not only save us but fix us and show us how to live because we once believed that there is something wrong with us. We thought we were broken. Our stories do not end with a strange hero saving us. Our story goes like this, the women who actively participate in the “Sisters That Been There” support group come to a understanding the only person who has the power to save them is themselves.

I want to encourage you all to embrace these amazing women who are ready and willing to face you, the community, and to be accountable for the damage they done.

The first generation of “STBT” celebration of life ceremony took place in April. Six individuals were honored for their courage and commitment to change their lives from negative to positive ways. It has been an incredible experience to watch these women grow and to see the growth within this program.

I will continue to work diligently to seek more resources to help fulfill the needs of the women of “STBT”. I hope that as a community we can believe in the changes that are possible for women like myself ” formerly incarcerated” and know without a doubt that if rehabilitating in Santa Clara County is possible for one woman then all women to have an option to also rehabilitate….. with a little love, consistency, and support we can break this vicious cycle.

The first graduates of Sisters Who Been There.

Photos by G. Melesaine.

For More info about "Sisters That Been There", visit their blog at; http://sistersthatbeenthere.wordpress.com/

About Steeda McGruder

Steeda McGruder is the founder and director of Sisters That Been There, a peer lead support and re-entry program in Santa Clara County.

This article is part of the categories: Community  / Law & Justice  / San Jose//South Bay  / Story 
This article is part of the tags: Elmwood  / Incarceration  / Probation  / San Jose  / Sisters That Been There  / STBT  / Steeda McGruder  / Women Incarcerated 


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