Sisters That Been There Graduate "The Celebration of Life"

DeBug Photographer Charisse Domingo attends a graduation of life for women who've been stuck in the cycles of incarceration. "Sisters That Been There" a support group created by former incarcerated Steeda McGruder explains each of her graduates

Sisters That Been There, a program for recently incarcerated women held their endly program graduation. Program coordinatoor, Steeda McGruder talks about each of her graduates as they are awarded with "The Celebration of Life".

Ready For Change

When Monica came to us, she knew what needed to be done and was open to doing it. She needed a job, so she got one. She needed a place to call home, she got one. She is well on her way, always willing to inspire and motivate the other women in the group. Her down to earth approach on life and her situation has shot her right up to the stars.

She knew what she wanted from the moment she stepped in to the class room. “I want to be the best mother I can and get off probation”. She is on her way. Jeniffer came consistently for 6 months and made it very clear what her needs and wants were. She never gave up and that is a key quality our STBT share.

I received an email one day from a mother seeking help for her daughter, little did i know the woman she was speaking of would walk into my group months after. Andrea came to me willing to learn and meet people who were doing the same things she was. She successfully completed the 16 week course and is currently seeking employment she has been a great example of a Sisters That Been There.

Regina P was able to fight her addiction and reclaim her place at the "celebration of life" ceremony. She  complete the first celebration however was not able to celebrate, due to a relapse. But she came back even stronger and completed 16 weeks of intense and emotional search for self and we are honored to announced her as a alumnae of s.t.b.t

Breaking more than one cycle, Latoya has broken not only the cycle of incarceration but also a cycle in her Native heritage. “Not many Native American women have help like this now, I get to tell them that there is help”, these are her words. She is now an example in the Native American community that change is possible and to women who have been locked up with this strong woman get to also see that change is possible. Latoya is a true inspiration to our sisterhood. Her son often attended group with her we wish them both the best on there journey.

It is my great honor to introduce to you all, the second generation of sisters that been there "change" is happening right here in Santa Clara County. These women have already broke their own cycle, will we encourage their chance or ignore it? We believe in loving our sisters until they learn from us how to love themselves!

About Charisse Domingo


Charisse Domingo is a photojournalist with Silicon Valley De-Bug, and co-founder of the Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project. Domingo is also the co-founder of the Darkroom at Debug, a community for film photographers.

This article is part of the categories: Arts & Culture  / Community  / Law & Justice  / Photo  / San Jose//South Bay 
This article is part of the tags: AB109  / Charisse Domingo  / Elmwood complex women  / Incarcerated women  / Lakota  / Native American Women Incarcerated  / Peer Support  / Photography  / Probation Department of Santa Clara County  / Santa Clara County  / Sisters That Been 


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