Gina Letter from Director Dec 2014

Dear Parents, Friends, Supporters, and Youth,

As we approach the end of the year here at FFLIC we are looking back on our struggles and our accomplishments of 2014, as well as our hopes for the New Year. The fight for justice reform is long and there are many setbacks. However, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” We believe that here at FFLIC, as anyone who does social justice work must believe and hope for a better future.

And this year has indeed been filled with accomplishments. Mr. Johnson and I have participated in panels and speaking engagements all over the country, as momentum has begun to build for juvenile justice reform. Several schools in New Orleans have signed on to our “Moratorium on Suspensions and Expulsions” and we have worked with many more on instituting restorative justice policies. FFLIC staff and members have been honored with awards recognizing their successes, from young Rahsaan Isom who was recognized as a Youth Warrior Against Poverty to longtime member Valerie Branch who recently earned recognition from Catholic Charities.

We also have had the opportunity this year to spotlight our work throughout the whole state of Louisiana, highlighting the accomplishments of Pastor Gladys in Lake Charles and Ms. Sonia Coleman in Shreveport. Incarcerated children and the school-to-prison pipeline is an issue that affects every part of Louisiana and we are proud to have such incredible activists fighting for justice all throughout the state.

We are starting the New Year fresh, and this month we will be launching our new website and moving to our new office. In this spirit of renewal, we are excited to announce our Let Kids Be Kids Campaign, which encapsulates all the important work we do. Let Kids Be Kids means that children should be in classrooms, learning, experimenting, and testing boundaries, all while feeling loved and supported. It means that we as a society need to see the value in all children, forgive their youthful mistakes, and do everything we can as a community to ensure that they are treated fairly and experience success.

The holidays are a difficult time for many of our children and families. We work with children whose parents are incarcerated or who have to work over Christmas, children who spend weeks at home alone, children whose parents cannot afford gifts. We also work with children who are themselves incarcerated, on ankle monitors, on probation, suspended from school, and forgotten. Please keep them in your prayers this season. Think about what it must be like for a mother to visit her only son in a juvenile holding facility on Christmas Eve. Think about the grandmother that cannot afford the drive, and the incarcerated granddaughter who gets only one phone call. Hold them in your hearts.

In the spirit of giving, please also consider donating to FFLIC this season. We have worked tirelessly this year in pursuit of justice for the most vulnerable families and children in Louisiana and your donations will go toward furthering that work. We are also accepting donations of toys and gifts for families that otherwise would go without.

Our work is made possible because of the strength, resilience, and power of our members. Thank you all. All of us here at FFLIC wish you a happy and peaceful holiday season and a hopeful New Year.

Sincerely,

Gina Womack