Keeping Families Connected is on a mission to maintain the bond between loved ones no matter the circumstance. The Texas-based organization provides free transportation for individuals to visit family members in prisons. Thanks to Letitia's free services, families are able to see one another while getting through some of the hardest times in their lives. Learn more about their work here!
Can you tell me more about the idea that bars don’t have to become barriers?
Keeping Families Connected is a nonprofit that started from my personal passion. I was wrongfully convicted in 2011 and spent 18 months in prison before winning my appeal and getting released. I was in a position where bars became barriers between me and my family and I don’t want anyone else to have to go through that. When I was in prison, I had just lost my 17 year old son in a car accident and nobody brought my daughter to see me. By the time I got out, I was broken, broke, and bitter. I truly believe that if you find out what your gift is, you can reach prosperity. I learned from my experience that I had to help other parents connect with their children and family members. Now, we transport over 800 kids per year.
Can you explain the need for your services for those who don’t have experience going to a prison?
Most times, prisons are really far from where people reside. Many people don’t have reliable transportation, the finances to get there, or the ability to take time off work to travel there. As an example, I have a woman who I drive frequently who has three sons in different prisons. She is constantly traveling all around the state with her grandkids so that they can have a relationship with their dads. People have to be held accountable for their actions, but at the end of the day parents love their children and children love their parents. It’s not our place to judge. There is nothing like a parent's love, and prison shouldn’t get in the way of that.
How does the ride process work?
We do rides three times a month for people who don’t have accessible modes of transportation or can’t drive themselves. People submit requests on our website telling me where they are and where they need to go. I call each person and make it happen. We pick a meeting point that is easy to get to by train or bus and the vans leave from there. Our vans hold about 8 people comfortably and we try to make it a luxury trip. We give them breakfast and lunch, and everything is free. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Thanksgiving we do big trips. I’ll rent a bunch of cars, pack them with people, and we spend the whole day traveling all over the place. For some people, this is the first holiday they’ve ever been able to spend together.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I absolutely love what I do. It’s been a learning process but I’ve really mastered it by now. My favorite part is making people happy. I’ve had people come back to me once they get out of prison thanking me for bringing their families to see them. Sometimes, these trips are the first time that a parent gets to see or hold their own child. Those kinds of moments feel amazing. After losing my own son, I know the importance of spending time with family and keeping that love alive.