What is Wings For L.I.F.E.?
Wings For L.I.F.E. – Life-skills Imparted to Families through Education
, is an empowerment program that provides life-skills, education, training, and support for children and family members of prisoners (returning citizens) and at-risk youth. Some of the educational topics that are addressed include single parenting, finances – how to stretch a dollar, discipline, acceptance issues, prison visits, feeding a family, substance abuse and signs, reintegration and reunification issues, legal issues, public defenders, work/job issues, holidays, and anything else of interest to the group. Search Institute’s® 40 Developmental Assets® are incorporated into the training.
There are no costs associated with Wings for L.I.F.E. and everyone is welcome! Wings for L.I.F.E. is a program that
can work anywhere; inner-city, suburban areas, large and small communities.
In our society where children are all at risk in one way or another, children whose parent(s) are in prison face even more challenges.
Expert speakers teach about:
Money, jobs, parenting, and issues unique to incarceration. Plus after-dinner programs for Pre-K and K-12 students include tutoring, karate, ukulele, beading, crafts, etc.
Ways you can help Wings continue into the next 20 years:
- The Extra Mile Champions—$2,500* Connect families in the Wings For L.I.F.E. weekly Monday night program by funding their participation as they learn about money, jobs, parenting, issues unique to incarceration, safety, wellness, literacy, nutrition and many other support services!
- The Steadfast Champions—$1,000* Multiply the impact of Wings For L.I.F.E. by supporting the children’s Pre-K and Tutoring programs, volunteer recruitment and training programs, and Wings outreach into the community.
- Wings Family Day Champion—$500* Helps provide pizza, cookies, drinks, crafts and supplies for children and family members of inmates to attend a community or prison family day that strengthens and reunites the whole family.
- WFL Dinner Sponsor Champion—$250* Provide dinner and children’s programming to an average 76 attendees in the Wings For L.I.F.E. weekly Monday night program for one of 44 annual meetings.
- Wings Daily Life Champion—$100* Provide support for daily operations.
*Recognition on Wings For LIFE International website, newsletters, schedules, weekly email, Facebook blasts
WFL is UNIQUE & there is no program in America like it!
- The United States is the world's leader in incarceration with 2.2 million people currently in the nation's prisons, a 500% increase over the last 30 years. (The Sentencing Project, 2015)
- 1 in 35 adults in the United States are under some form of correctional control. Currently 100 million people (1 in 3 U.S. adults) have a criminal conviction that impacts their employability and future. (New Mexico Prison Population Forecast, 2015)
- 95% of offenders will be released back into the community and of those, 75% will return to incarceration within 5 years. (U.S. Justice Dept.)
- Nationally the female population has been the fastest growing correctional population, increasing by an average of 3.4% annually. (NM Prison Population Forecast, July, 2015)
- New Mexico expenditures on corrections $663.41 million - 2.77% of total state expenditures. (Associated Press, 2017)
- United States annual correctional costs $6.7 billion. (The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2018)
- Children of prisoners are up to 72% more likely to become incarcerated themselves.
- New Mexico is 3rd in U.S. for kids with imprisoned parents. 52,000+ children in NM (about 10% of NM's child population) have had a parent in jail/prison. (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2016)
- Of the 10% of New Mexico chidren with an incarcerated parent, 19% are Native American and 11% are Hispanic. (datacenter.kidscount.org, 2015)
- The annual cost to incarcerate one juvenile in New Mexico is approximately $182,000 compared to the lowest, $46,662 in Louisiana, and the highest, $352,663 in New York. (Albuquerque Journal, 2015)
- In comparison, New Mexico spends $7,933 annually on education per child and nationally $11,014. (National Center for Education Statistic, 2015)
Because of these difficult factors we believe that committed, caring people in our communities need to take an interest in our children. Education and life-skills are necessary to help prevent another generation of inmates and to cut recidivism. Wings For L.I.F.E. is a program that can work anywhere; inner-city, suburban areas, large and small communities.
Please make a donation today so we can continue &
expand this vital program!
- In 2018 Wings annual budget of $177,840 served a total of 8,771 people including 2,516 children and teens for only $20.28 per person.
- $51,024.48 was the cost Wings spent on 2,516 children and teens which is less than 1/3 the cost of incarcerating one juvenile in the State of NM.
Just imagine what your donation will allow us to do to expand our programming and teach even more people! Wings For L.I.F.E. is a program that can work anywhere; inner-city, suburban areas, large and small communities.
What WFL does NOT do:
- WFL does NOT do a Bible study. Instead, WFL teaches life-skills that will help families of prisoners and returning citizens survive and give them time to find a congregation of their own choosing.
- WFL does NOT say prayers, except for a table grace before dinner is served.
- WFL does NOT proselytize.
What WFL DOES do:
- WFL DOES treat everyone with respect.
- WFL DOES encourage volunteers to see guests as family. Volunteers are asked to live out their faith through their words and actions.
- WFL DOES bring families of prisoners, probationers, and former inmates (returning citizens) together with caring volunteers and is determined to provide a safe and supportive environment for everyone. Because of this Wings For LIFE International cannot allow participation by any person convicted as a sex offender. This protects program participants and helps ensure that offenders do not violate the terms of their probation/parole.
- WFL DOES offer group mentoring and support.
- WFL DOES teach manners.
- WFL DOES provide support and hope.
- WFL DOES provide referrals to supportive agencies.
How to Get Started
- Organize a core group of caring individuals to meet with and help plan your program. (At first they will serve as an Advisory Board, with future Board Members evolving from this group.)
|a . Most of your volunteers will likely come from the faith community and/or civic groups (Civitan, Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary, etc.) so be sure to engage these organizations.
b. Contact leaders in juvenile and adult jails and prisons.
c. Contact local probation/parole offices and halfway house program leaders.
d. Contact leaders from the YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and other youth organizations.
- At first meeting:
|a. Have everyone present fill out Wings For L.I.F.E. Questionnaire to poll attendees.
b. Identify a minimum of 4-6 volunteers (more is better) who are committed to meeting 2-4 times per month for the initial (6) six months to plan your program.
c. Review WFL Questionnaire responses.
- Create regular Advisory Board meetings.
- Find a WFL meeting site. Sites to consider are local YMCA’s, Boys & Girls Clubs, community centers, or area churches. Secular sites may feel more welcoming to non-church members, but usually churches have better facilities for WFL meetings (kitchen, large meeting area, and area for children’s arts and crafts) so when choosing a location to meet, consider:
|a. Geographic location. Is it convenient to your target audience?
b. Is location on or near a bus route?
c. Is there handicap access?
d. Will the facilities allow a small amount of storage for program supplies?
- Determine day of week to meet.
|a. Sundays may cause conflict with church members.
b. Mondays may be difficult because of national football games.
c. Keep in mind church commitments and other local conflicts.
- Determine the best time to meet. (6:00 – 7:30 may work best. This allows family members to pick up children after work and still attend the meeting without getting home too late for homework.)
- Determine if food will be served.
|a. Serving a meal adds another huge dimension to the program, but many families will not attend if they have to go home and feed the family and then come out from their home for a meeting.
b. Meals become an incentive for people to attend.
c. Meals provide real-life situations to learn and use manners and practice life-skills.
d. Conversation around a meal offers a prime learning opportunity for all participants.
e. Families learn to communicate and talk around the table.
- Publicity (See examples of all in Publicity Section.)
|a. Network – word of mouth works well.
b. PSA’s on radio stations.
c. Church bulletins
d. Local newspapers
e. Write articles for law reviews, magazines, community resources, and anywhere they will talk with you.
f. Create an e-mail list of all contacts met. Send our Press Releases for all meetings and events.
g. Once program is reading to start, contact all area media. Try to get a story in the local newspaper, area magazines, and local TV coverage.
h. Send out meeting Press Releases to area media and e-mail list.
- If meals or snacks will be part of your program contact:
| a. Local restaurants to ask them to sponsor a meal
b. Food pantries
c. Local congregations – Sunday School classes, youth groups, and men’s/women’s groups are great resources for meal donations
d. Determine what meals/food is needed
e. Try to keep food healthy and nutritious
f. Paper products needed – recycle all plastic ware
g. Drinks – consider serving water and sugar-free lemonade, as attendees may be diabetic or watching calories. Avoid any drinks with red dye to avoid staining the meeting site and/or clothing.
|a. Contact national Wings Office to review grant options
b. Establish Wings Change N’ Lives Program
c. Make a list of potential donors to contact
d. Set up “Minute for Mission” opportunities in local congregations
e. Arrange speaking opportunities to share WFL with civic organizations.
|a. Review various topics available and determine speakers/leaders for each meeting
b. Establish meeting leader/facilitator
c. Create a monthly, quarterly and annual calendar