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placeholder August 11, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 14   •   Oakland, CA

At St. Raymond Parish in Dublin, from left, John Souza, Grand Knight; Eric Hom, business manager; Shannon Collyer, youth minister; Matt Troiano, past Grand Knight; and Father Lawrence D'Anjou, parochial administrator, welcome Hilary Carson, program director, and Amalia Molina, executive director of Get on the Bus.
Courtesy photo

Children aided in visit to imprisoned mothers

Two hundred for breakfast at 5:30 a.m.?

St. Raymond Parish in Dublin was happy to have them. On July 19, the parish welcomed 160 children and their caregivers, who had ridden buses all night from Southern California to visit their mothers, incarcerated at the federal prison in Dublin.

With a Knights of Columbus were in command of the kitchen, turning out pancakes, eggs, sausages and fruit for the guests, who were participating in the Get on the Bus program, which facilitates the visits of children to their parents in prison.

Parish volunteers, including members of the youth group, staff and spouses of the Knights, helped their guests at tables set up for arts and crafts. Some made cards for their mothers, said Eric Hom, the parish business manager.

It was not just the children who made cards, Hom said. Some of the adults accompanying them did, too, a reminder that some of those adults were about to visit their own children in prison.

The guests spent about two hours at St. Raymond Parish before heading over to the prison.

"We get so much more out of it than we give," said Father Lawrence D'Anjou, parochial administrator. Get on the Bus "is a wonderful group to serve," he said, "a joy to work with. It's terrific to be able to show some kindness and offer them hospitality."

Hom accompanied the group to the prison, an experience he called "amazing." Each family of visitors was assigned to a table in a large visiting area. Arts and crafts supplies and brand-new, unopened board games, supplied by the host parishes, provided some diversion.

The prison provided a barbecue lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers, Hom said.

There were reminders of prison life. An inmate count was conducted every couple of hours, Hom said, with the mothers going into a separate glassed-in room.

When it came time to say goodbye at 2 p.m., the mothers departed for the glassed-in room, Hom said, where the children could still see them as they left.

"That's when you hear the crying of the kids," Hom said.

The children boarded the buses once again. They stopped at St. Joan of Arc Parish in San Ramon, where they were treated to pizza, before their long trip back to Southern California.

For additional information on Get on the Bus, a program of the Center for Restorative Justice Works, visit www.getonthebus.us.

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