On Monday March 5, a group of entertainers including John Forte, Maino and Saigon will appear at the Griffin Nightclub in New York to raise funds for In Arms Reach, an organization that helps children of incarcerated parents.
In Arms Reach was founded by Terrence Stevens, a Harlem resident who knows all too well about the plight of being incarcerated. In 1990, he was sentenced as a first time nonviolent offender under the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws. He spent nine years in prison -- while bound to a wheelchair, paralyzed from muscular dystrophy -- before being granted clemency by Governor George Pataki.
When released Terrence fulfilled his dream to help the children of the people incarcerated in New York State prisons. He understood that the stigma of having an incarcerated parent, coupled with an unstable care arrangement, exacerbated the trauma that a child of an incarcerated parent suffers. Statistics show that the trauma could lead to a host of negative effects including poor academic achievement, drug and alcohol use, and involvement with the juvenile and adult criminal justice system.
Nearly 60 percent of the people behind bars in New York have one or more children.
In Arms Reach programs include one-on-one mentoring, after-school tutoring, college prep, and other service learning projects. They also help children and families stay connected to their incarcerated loved ones by arranging frequent visitation trips to upstate prisons. Over the years, the organization has served more than a thousand children in Harlem, giving them the support they need to lead healthy, productive lives.
"We are extremely excited to have this event at the Griffin," said Terrence. "Over the past nine years, we have worked to effect change in the lives of our Harlem children. I'm proud to say that this event will help us raise the money we need to continue our important work. I thank all our supporters, including music mogul Russell Simmons, musician John Forte, singer Trey Songz, and football great Carl Banks."
Follow Anthony Papa on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AnthonyPapa