Girls Embracing Mothers Program Helps Unite Imprisoned Mothers With Their Daughters to Create Strong Bonds and Positive Memories

The bus is loaded with snacks, ready to go. It’s a two-hour drive well worth the trip. 
If you take a look around the room, there are arts and crafts and plenty of laughs, but this isn’t your typical field trip. Today’s outing takes place at the Woodman State Jail in Texas.

“No matter what, these women are mothers,” Attorney Brittany K. Barnett tells CBN News.

Barnett is the force behind GEM or Girls Embracing Mothers, a prison program uniting daughters with their moms behind bars.

“We are breaking the cycle and building the bonds between mothers and daughters. But also between the girls who are going through a situation, they feel no one else can understand and they are now with a group, or a family as we call ourselves, who get it,” Barnett explained.

That family includes mothers from prisons all over the region.

“They can be themselves, the moms can be themselves, and the relationship with the moms and daughters is overwhelmingly positive,” she said.

To qualify, program participants cannot be incarcerated for crimes against children or the elderly and must be infraction-free for six months.

But it isn’t just arts and crafts. The mothers take parenting courses and dive into their goals, spiritually and financially.

Former GEM mom turned employee Angelica Zaragoza remembers being on the other side of the conversation.

“It’s a mixture of all feelings, you’re happy, you’re excited you’re embarrassed,” she recalled.

“My first visit with my daughter, with GEM, I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t even speak to her. I knew she was disappointed in me. I knew I had hurt my baby,” she explained.

But things got better with GEM, time, and faith.

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SOURCE: CBN News, Amber C. Strong