The ORW L.I.F.E. (Looking Inward for Excellence) Group

The donation came through the mail. A $15,000 check in an envelope. No letter of explanation. No fanfare.

But the organization and address on the check caught the attention of Project HOPE staff. The donation was from the Ohio Reformatory for Women (ORW) and it was purposed for HOPE’s relief efforts in Haiti.

So we called to say “Thank You,” and we heard this inspiring story.

On January 21, 2010, just nine days after the earthquake that destroyed thousands of homes and lives in Haiti, a group of 120 female inmates at the ORW pooled together $15,000 to aid in Project HOPE’s disaster relief efforts. The ORW L.I.F.E. (Looking Inward for Excellence) Group is comprised of prisoners with a life sentence who have transformed their bleak reality into a way to reach others in need.

These women diligently saved the $15,000 over time by selling everyday items such as hair ties and sandwiches to fellow inmates. Once disaster struck Haiti, the women knew exactly where their money should go. In a letter written to their Warden, the inmates humbly state their request:

“Being able to reach around the world is an honor for us. The unfortunate tragedies of others become opportunities to the L.I.F.E. Group. We are on a mission, for we know all too well what it feels like to be forgotten. Please allow us this simple act of redemption in giving our money to feed, clothe and support the people of Haiti.”

The women chose Project HOPE as the recipient of their donation after researching several organizations online to find out about their continuing work to help the people of Haiti.

“Project HOPE is honored to be the recipient of such a kind and heartfelt donation from the Ohio Reformatory for Women,” said John P. Howe, III, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Project HOPE. “This outpouring of compassion reminds us all that no matter what our life circumstances may be, there is always room to help others in need.”

With the Haiti relief emergency phase coming to an end, Project HOPE will use the ORW funds to support a long-term rehabilitation program, which will help victims of crush injuries recover and improve their quality of life, and strengthen the skills of Haitian professionals in physical and occupational therapy and other rehabilitation fields.

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