30 Children Make a Special Trip to See Their Moms Who Are Incarcerated Upstate

11 January 2013

By Kasey Currier | Program Assistant, Children and Youth Services

The cold fall weather in New York brings with it the start of Osborne’s Family Ties Program, a program for children ages 3 months to 21 years whose mothers are incarcerated at Albion Correctional Facility (located near the Canadian border). Family Ties offers a 12-session parenting program at Albion while providing outreach, support, and service referrals to the children of the mothers in the class, and their caregivers. A special extended visit day is organized and incorporated into the mothers’ graduation day. The children embark on a two day trip including a 6 hour visit on the second day. This fall, that special visit took place on December 7th. 

Up bright and early, all the NYC-based families gathered at our Brooklyn office on December 6th with their luggage in tow. In addition to 16 participating children and youth, 9 staff volunteers and 9 volunteers from St. James Church and Congregation Beth Elohim, as well as our Family Ties Coordinator, Diana Archer, all went on the trip. As this is a visit dedicated entirely to the children and youth, caregivers said their goodbyes and volunteers took over as we left on a big bus headed for JFK airport. While we waited for our flight, volunteers played UNO and other cards games with us while we talked about what to expect over the coming days. For many of us it was our first time flying!

One short flight and lots of snacks later, we touched down in Rochester, got on a big yellow school bus and headed to Brighton Presbyterian Church. We were greeted with smiling faces and lots of games and craft supplies! Here and at the visit day tomorrow, we would be joined by 14 more children and youth who came to us by Amtrak, by car, and even on a very early morning plane ride, making us a total of 30 children! 

At Brighton Presbyterian Church, we all created beautiful handmade cards for our mothers to be given during the visit. So our moms would remember how happy we were, we even got our pictures taken to glue inside! After games and crafts we had a buffet dinner. Then there was a special surprise: a live drum show that all the children and youth could participate in! We had so much fun dancing and playing instruments. After saying goodbye, we headed to our hotel for some R&R. But first— a swim! We laughed and played at the hotel pool and jacuzzi and had the whole room to ourselves. 

In the early morning, we had a big breakfast and made our way through the farmland to Albion, NY. For about 6 hours, we were able to hug, play, dance, talk, squeeze and even take pictures with our moms. We gave them our handmade cards, had a buffet lunch, and then watched our moms graduate from the Family Ties Parenting Program. We were so proud! 

Being able to spend quality time with our mothers talking and playing made us all so happy— the room was full of smiles (until the end of the visit when we did have some tears). Volunteers guided the group of children and youth back to the airport and home after the visit. It was an amazing visit day that was worth the whole journey! Children and youth made lasting memories with their mothers and special connections to volunteers that they wouldn’t soon forget. What a great way to kick off the holiday season!