OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – Not everyone can spend the holidays with our family especially given the late December weather conditions, but for many Oklahomans there is something much greater that is keeping them from their loved ones. Despite that separation, the Oklahoma Messages Project is connecting incarcerated parents with their children.
“This is my mom,” ten year old Casen said. “At the visits we play games like board games. Every two weeks.”
That is how long Casen waits in between those visits. They last about four hours.
“I’d rather spend the whole day with her,” he said.
They will never be long enough, but that is all the time the Department of Corrections allows visitors. Casen saves up stories and tales of fifth grade for those four short but precious hours.
“We talk,” he said. “That one of my teeth was loose.”
But he is not the only storyteller. Just as his mother anxiously awaits Casen’s arrival and the stories it brings, Casen also waits patiently for his mother’s stories – in the mail.
“Happy,” he said. “ It helps me a lot, and it makes me really glad that she sends it.”
Storybooks. His mother’s face and voiced are recorded just for him. She reads.
“I follow along,” Casen said.
“I’m going to be reading this to my son,” Lori Jobe said. “His name is Casen Jobe, and I think he’s going to really enjoy reading it with me every night.”
From the inside of Mabel Bassett Correctional Center, Lori reads to her youngest son. The Oklahoma Messages Project is made up of trained volunteers who go into prison and record incarcerated parents reading, package up the books and recorded messages, and send them to their children. This batch made it just in time for Christmas.
“When I see them cry I just start crying along with them,” volunteer Julie Cox said.
What started as a pilot program in 2011 has now served thousands of Oklahoma kids who are separated from their parents by a prison sentence.
WHAT STARTED AS A PILOT PROGRAM IN 2011…
“The DOC said we’ve got to see if there’s any impact from this,” Oklahoma Messages Project Executive Director Cheri Fuller said.”They just called me and said you can go in any prison you want.”
Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of female incarceration.”
“It just means the world to the kids,” Fuller said. “’ve been in there homes and seen their little faces light up, because this is the first time they’ve seen mom. I’ve seen them kiss the screen.”
“We get to get personal with our kids, and it’s good for my kids,” Lori Jobe said. “My youngest replays it all the time, because we pray together on here.”
They read, connect, and bond, because there is no love like a mother’s love.
“I love you. I miss you,” Casen said.
Oklahoma Messages Project is a non-profit. For more information visit: Ok Messages Project |.