Freedom on the Inside
Seven TUMI graduates at Denver Women’s Correctional Facility (DWCF) marched in time to “Pomp and Circumstance” with their heads held high. Robed in black and purple, they looked as accomplished as they felt. The audience stood in respect. When they halted at the front of the room, nervous jitters dissipated as smiles spread across each face. Sixteen intensive nine-week modules later, they had arrived. This graduation would be the first TUMI prison class in Colorado and the second TUMI graduation in a women’s facility nationally.
“A lot of us came into TUMI unsure of what we wanted to get out of it,” said one graduate. “I know my expectations changed. It’s not just about what we can take outside, either. It starts right in here. We’ve been trained to raise up other women, and lead them to Christ.”
Dr. Don Davis delivered the commencement address, congratulating each beaming graduate by name. “Your faith has brought you so far,” Dr. Davis concluded. “God will continue to lead you if you will let Him.”
Tonya, the TUMI site leader, then conferred the certificates, sharing, “These women prove that freedom comes from within. From following God.”
After a final prayer and dedication, the band led the group of students, families, volunteers, and donors in one more song of praise. Graduates and guests then gathered around tables for a warm catered meal. They closed the night with cake and rich conversation, thankful to celebrate.
“My excitement today is all for them,” said Elaine, one of the mentors who graduated with the class. “I know what they went through to get here, and it’s a huge deal. A lot of them come from backgrounds of lower education. I’ve seen them work so hard, and be so faithful, so passionate about what they’re learning.”
“To see the transformation is truly amazing,” shared Darwin, another mentor. “There’s nothing like it. By the time this is over, they truly are not the same people they were when they started.”
One lieutenant who was present wholeheartedly agreed: “When they are released, none of these ladies are coming back in.”
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