Sometimes the smallest of gifts can have the biggest results. For inmates at the Department of Corrections Women's Facilities in Cranston, Rhode Island, those gifts came over the holidays in the form of small bags of travel-size toiletries, courtesy of students and staff from the University of Rhode Island’s (URI) College of Nursing.
The donations were organized by Ginette G. Ferszt, a professor of nursing who still remembers the first time she brought items to the women, years ago.
“As I got to know them more and more, I saw what little they had,” she said. “That first year I was so taken aback by their responses when we were handing out the bags. Some burst into tears at the idea that someone had thought of them.”
Ferszt specializes in psychiatric mental health clinical nursing, and runs support groups for inmates and a group for inmates who have been pregnant. As a nursing professor, she has a ready-made group of students eager to help others.
“I was excited to take part,” senior nursing major Amanda Millan said. “Those of us who are more fortunate need to give back. Even a little thing can help. Imagine if you can’t take a shower with nice body wash or shampoo. It’s something we take for granted.”
While the task was charitable, it also provided some hands-on education to the students involved, Ferszt said. It showed nursing newcomers what women in prison face every day, what brought them there, and the challenges they must try to overcome, such as gaining access to health care.
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