Correctional Arts ReEntry (CARE) Project
The CARE Project Story
Did you know that many inmates have artistic talents? We made this discovery when we were working with incarcerated women at the Women’s Community Correctional Center (WCCC). This discovery gave birth to the Correctional Arts ReEntry (CARE) Project that we designed as a social enterprise reentry program to market and sell art or craft products made by offenders who are either in prison or have transitioned to the community.
The CARE Project began as an extension of a program started by WorkNet in 2007 at WCCC for female inmates to create artistic work or craft items as a therapeutic means to express their creativity. WorkNet lost funding for the program in 2011 but continued to work with the women through unfunded Service Learning Projects (SLP) for them to give back to the community.
The women were asked to come up with craft item ideas for the SLP. They decided to create greeting cards for special occasions that included making Father’s Day cards that were donated to the men in supported living centers, special cards for the children and their families at Ronald McDonald house, and Mother’s Day cards for the women in domestic violence shelters.
In December 2014, we wanted to test the viability of turning the CARE concept into a social enterprise reentry project. We were given the opportunity to test the market and see if people would be interested in buying artwork produced by ex-offenders. We showcased the work of three community artists at the NaMea Hawaii Gallery and our market test proved successful. As a result, we were able to secure funding to bring the CARE Project back to WCCC.
In January 2016, we launched the CARE Project at WCCC. The project’s goal is to provide the women an alternative, besides the prison work line, to earn money by making beautiful products for sale to the community. Proceeds from the sale of products are split between the inmate artist and WorkNet to help us continue the program.
When you buy a product, your purchase contributes towards the artist’s ability to save money for her transition to the community.
The CARE Project at the Women's Community Correctional Center (WCCC)
In January 2016, we launched the CARE Project at the Women’s prison in Kailua. We started the pilot program with 8 women and taught our participants a paper art form called QUILLING. We continue to enroll new students each quarter who show an interest in making art or craft products.
We were amazed at how quickly they mastered the techniques. Since the project launched, they have made quilled cards, wall hangings, and other products for sale. One project they worked on was a butterfly and although they worked from the same design, each artist infused her butterfly with her personal touch of creativity, color, and style.
The women are now learning how to crochet and are being taught by another inmate who is an expert. We have received donations of yarn and crochet needles from the community to get them started. So far they have made hats, scarves, and a purse.
How We Got Started - Demonstration Project
with Community Artists
In December 2014, we partnered with the Na'Mea Hawaii Gallery located at Ward Warehouse in Honolulu, HI to test pilot and showcase the work of three of our community artists. Artists learned how to display their work, engage with customers, and handle financial transactions. The pilot was very successful and showed us that the CARE project can be a viable and sustainable social enterprise project.
The art work presented here is from two of our community artists, Mo Kalaikai and Cheryl. Mo is the Resident Artist for the CARE Project.
Art work can be purchased from our ONLINE STORE.