Reflections from Fired Up’s 1st Fundraiser

As a means of extending our Fired Up! community, we asked our guests to contribute their reflections from the evening; what they took away from the event, what they were moved by, inspired by, what challenged them, the food, the environment, the outfits, the speakers and so on. Below are some reflections and documentation from the night. Enjoy!

Deirdre Wilson talks about Fired Up! and her own story

Renee Roberts: I attended the fundraiser for Fired Up! What touched me the most was the statement from Samantha who said that she didn’t know that there were people on the outside who cared about her and wanted to help.  She said that it made her want to change her life and now she is committed to helping the women who are still incarcerated and who have been recently released.  It was deeply moving to hear the women of Fired Up! speak about why they are doing this work;  I could feel how deeply they care for the women and giving them hope, love and support.

Samantha Rogers tells her story and what Fired Up! means to her

Rick Roberts:  What struck me about the fundraiser was how far the younger generation seems to have come since I was young because it would have been extremely unusual for so many diverse people to get together, all working for, dedicated to, or at least contributing to such a selfless cause back in my day. I think that there has been real progress towards diversity and inclusion since my generation was young. This makes me feel optimistic given the sometimes disheartening, and sometimes sad things that we hear in the daily news.

Our guests listen as Fired Up! members share their stories and ask for support

Leah Johnston: The feeling in the kitchen as the event was winding down was familial in the most supportive, constructive sense of that word: everyone pitched in to clean, dry, sweep, put away, not working from some sense of obligation but just knowledge of the job to be done, and in enjoyment of the company.  I was talking to Samantha about how satisfying it is to work with people who act as well as talk (or even act while talking), and the casual, companionable efficiency of the kitchen clean-up felt so right, so fitting for Fired Up! members: this is a community of people whose actions seem like natural extensions of the way they live their lives.  There is work to be done, let’s do it.  And enjoy ourselves and support each other at the same time.  I left impressed with the potential of the group and inspired to action myself.

Deirdre Wilson and Mary Campbell rehearse their presentation as Samantha Rogers and Adrienne Skye Roberts listen

Eric Kuhn:  One of the things that most struck me about the fundraiser was the tremendous amount of joy and exuberance present. While maintaining a pointed clarity and strength in their critique of the grave injustices perpetuated by the prison system and the structural obstacles to happiness and well-being faced by members inside and out, the members and allies of Fired Up! pulsed with a degree of positivity that was all the more staggering given the challenges it faces. The message was clear that these women are a force to be reckoned with, and that they refuse to give up their hope for a better and more truly just way of life. Even when tears were shed, and hard truths of troubled pasts and corrupt institutions were discussed, this elevated optimism remained– in the hearty laughter; the celebratory, upbeat music; the moving shows of gratitude; the palpable love and respect between the members and facilitators; the playfulness and wit and wisdom of Alisha Coleman’s poem; Deirdre’s fabulous red dress…the list could go on and on!

To see such hopefulness and exalted energy in the face of such a cruel obstacle was deeply moving and inspiring, and gave me hope not only for the Movement, but for people’s ability to maintain their humanity and strive to be their best selves no matter what challenges come their way.

We had a delicious taco bar with donated food and desserts

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About FIRED UP!

Fired Up! is a grassroots network of people who have been or are currently, behind the walls of SF County Jail building community with others who are committed to breaking down the barriers those walls produce. In September 2011, two former prisoner members of California Coalition for Women Prisoners began a weekly "Personal Empowerment" group for women and male-identified people at SF County Jail. Six months later, nearly a dozen people go inside weekly and several members, who have been released, are part of our collective as it takes shape on the outside. There are members in the jail who have attended Fired Up! meetings every week since it began. Together, we seek to build a vision of community rooted in principles of healing, self-determination, and social justice movement building.
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