WE ARE GOING BACK TO PRISON.
In the summer of 2012, as a pastor in Franklin, TN, I (Melissa Greene) was invited to take a concert to a prison to contribute to an existing ministry's expansion. Without hesitation, I embraced the chance to bring art and hope to those incarcerated, even amidst the challenges ahead.
Over the next five years, I curated and led 13 weeklong tours with concerts in 127 maximum security prisons, witnessing the profound effects that music and inspiration had on individuals seeking change, healing, and a path to serve both during and after their time in prison. Our work became a beacon of hope, creating life-changing experiences that touched the hearts of those within the prison walls and the souls of our team members.
As life unfolded and circumstances shifted, my involvement in that prison ministry came to an end when I resigned from pastoring in 2017. Nevertheless, my team and I held onto the unwavering belief that our passion for bringing art, healing, and hope to the incarcerated would find new avenues to flourish.
During this period, I co-founded a non-profit organization: IMAGINARIUM, a space dedicated to imagining and creating a better world. Out of this, GREENEHOUSE COLLECTIVE, the arts initiative of IMAGINARIUM, was launched, focused on using art to inspire lives to reach their fullest potential. Over the past six years, our efforts have been guided by intention, building relationships, and refining our mission.
Finally, in December 2022, a long-awaited opportunity materialized. I was introduced to an incredible individual, Eldra Jackson, and the prison outreach program he helps lead, INSIDE CIRCLE. Inside Circle is committed to fostering transformative environments for system-impacted youth and adults, enabling healing, purpose, and building meaningful lives of service inside and outside prison walls. Their intensive experiences have proven to connect, heal, and transform incarcerated individuals willing and ready to embark on a journey of personal growth.
Eldra and I discovered an immediate connection, sharing our visions and deep desires to contribute to the healing of these often-marginalized human beings. Recognizing the power of collaboration, we decided to find opportunities to join forces. Inside Circle has already established partnerships with prisons in California, New Jersey, and Texas, and Eldra has extended an invitation for us to present our concert experience at a facility in California this coming October.
This is where you come in. We're seeking your support to make this endeavor a reality. Our goal is to raise $25,000 for this trip in October and to help seed the preparation for a week-long tours in both California and Tennessee prisons in 2024 and beyond. Ultimately, our vision is to conduct three week-long prison tours annually.
To accomplish this, we must cover essential expenses such as airfare, hotels, van rental, food, audio rentals, and administrative costs. I want to emphasize that every team member is dedicated to volunteering their time and talents, driven solely by the desire to make a difference.
Hurt people hurt people, as the saying goes. But our calling is to heal and extend compassion to those who have caused pain. We believe we can make this world better by fostering connections and offering a reminder of inherent worth and our responsibility to ourselves and the world around us.
Few individuals possess the urge, desire, and courage to willingly enter prisons, let alone entertain and inspire within their confines. We have a unique opportunity to create lasting change for those of us who feel this calling (and I promise you this happens to be a team that is also incredibly talented and kind). We have established GREENEHOUSE COLLECTIVE: Prison, an initiative for giving back to those who genuinely need it.
The impact we have witnessed is awe-inspiring. It is beautiful to see lights come on, self-worth restored, and the flicker of freedom felt, if only for a couple of hours. But the truth is, those who enter the prisons are also changed. We are called to live our own fullest lives, to thrive, and to continue giving back.
Now, we humbly ask you with a heartfelt request: Will you join us in continuing this new chapter as GREENEHOUSE COLLECTIVE: Prison and help us meet our initial $25,000 goal? Your generous contribution will directly impact lives. Together, we can create a ripple effect of transformation, healing, and hope.
We believe in the power of art, compassion, and human connection to transcend the boundaries that confine and separate us. We believe this work truly matters and will profoundly move the hearts of all involved. Regardless of size, every donation will make a difference in supporting this vital mission.
Please take a moment to reflect on the impact your support can have on the lives of those incarcerated. Your generous gift will be a beacon of light in their journey toward redemption and a brighter future.
Your support will help us build bridges of hope and foster a more compassionate society.
With heartfelt gratitude,
Melissa Greene and the incredible current GC:P team (Lauren Wedertz Pilny, Abby Lane Hinton, Beta Angarole, Ryan Greenawalt, Randy Oxley, Wes Wakefield, Taylor Middlebrook, Shane Nixon, Joey Stamper, and Doug Day.)