Leaving YBB is bittersweet. I’ve met so many amazing people through this organization, both in our community and in Washington State prisons and jails.
My work with YBB allowed me to strengthen and expand my passion for prison reform, and I learned so much. As co-chair of the Race and Social Justice committee, I helped develop strategic materials that will inform the organization’s decision-making for years to come. As the communications manager, I was able to use our platform to educate and organize our followers around prison reform. As program coordinator, I built relationships with Department of Corrections and Detention staff and was blown away by the compassion that exists in the systems we work to dismantle. And I worked to support our teachers, amazing people who spend their limited free time driving, sometimes for hours each way, in the rain and snow and on holidays, to give our students a taste of freedom. Our staff team–Rosa, Patti, Jess, Alyssa, Celina–are 5 of the strongest, most caring, and most hardworking women I know. They gave me lessons that I will keep forever.
With YBB I was able to see the behind-the-scenes of an organization that works to change the prison system from the inside out. An organization that has carefully designed and modified its approach to training people to teach in prison, with our students’ needs always at the forefront. When I first started with YBB I thought Great, yoga and prison reform, two things I love! But it is so much more than that–through the collect calls from prisons across the state, to the letters, to the words of the women I laid my mat next to for yoga practice, to the powerful graduation speeches of the prisoners we trained to teach–this work is life-changing. Not because we’re healing or saving anyone, but because people in our programs are being seen as worthy, sometimes for the first time. Worthy of the tools that have helped us navigate this challenging world too, worthy of healing, worthy of making the world better, one interaction at a time.
I decided to leave YBB because it is time for me to step back from my role. After finishing graduate school, it was clear that I needed time for myself, time to breathe, and time to grow. I am excited to support the organization in different ways, and can’t wait to see where YBB goes.