History was made on Monday, November 24th at Grafton Correctional Institution in Lorain County, Ohio, when The RIDGE Project facilitated the prison's first-ever Father/Daughter Dance. Director of Family Services Beth Brown headed up the event, which required some extensive planning and coordination with the prison.
Both The RIDGE Project and Grafton Correctional were pleased with the results of the dance, which provided the incarcerated fathers a venue inside prison walls where they could experience something that typically only happens on the outside. Participants had to meet certain requirements, such as being a TYRO in good-standing.
The men were joined by their daughters, who had to meet age restrictions, as well as the child's mother or guardian. You could see right away that the fathers were thrilled at the chance to participate in such a ground-breaking event. One man remarked, "This has been great - being able to dance and have fun with my daughter. How else would I have been able to do that?" The girls enjoyed the time as well, and were able to not only dance with their dads, but also have their faces painted by local artist and RIDGE employee Frank Torrez. A meal of BBQ pork sandwiches, chips, cookies, coffee, water, and juice was provided for all those that participated. Music and entertainment services were handled by a DJ service and a photographer was on hand to capture the memories that were made - and to provide each family with a custom portrait for the evening.
The RIDGE Project is set to expand this event to other Ohio prisons, with the next one happening in late January at Richland Correctional Institution. Its benefits were noticed by all who attended. The fathers that took the initiative to participate made such a huge impact on their daughters' lives, in just one night. That night will live on in each child's memory as she gets older. Even though her dad may have been behind bars, he still cared enough to be an active part of her life. A father/daughter dance is a sacred thing for young girls. It holds in their hearts what sometimes cannot be held in their hands - a father's love.
*Excerpt from December 2014 E-Newsletter