HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – A program in the Pioneer Valley is helping women find strength through sharing their stories.
Though they’ve all had unique journeys, they have a few important experiences in common. Women gathered inside of a recovery support center on Suffolk Street in Holyoke, they were there to hear each others’ stories.
One woman told 22News, “Being able to put it on paper is courage, and being able to read it in front of a whole bunch of people, that’s even more courage. Then once you put it out there in the atmosphere, it is healing.”
The women come from different towns, generations, and cultures, but their stories share a few similarities.
They are all part of Voices from Inside – a creative writing workshop for women currently and formerly incarcerated, and women in recovery. Women like Daisy Diaz, who learned about the program from After Incarceration Support Systems, towards the beginning of her recovery.
“Found out about it from of the ladies that attended. I didn’t know I could write,” said Diaz.
Since 1999, voices from inside has helped thousands of women find their voices across all three counties in western Massachusetts. Both those behind bars, and those battling addiction.
Gretchen Krull, program director of Voices from Inside said, “Really the emphasis is on encouraging people to know that they have something important to say.”
Diaz calls writing, “therapy without the therapy.” She puts her experiences into poems. Today, she even teaches a writing workshop at her workplace.
The group gathered for a reading of their work. The stories are about themselves, but the sharing, that’s about others, too.
“I believe that our life experiences, it’s not just for us to experience, it’s for you to help the next person,” Diaz told 22News.