La Crosse, WI (WXOW) Reading at bedtime is part of many parents' daily routines; a bonding moment between parent and child. Sometime life choices break that bond. News 19's Amy DuPont explains how a group of local moms is trying to do the right thing and reconnect in a unique way.
There is something special about the few minutes before bedtime, especially when mother and child snuggle up with a book. When the rest of the world seems to fade away, and the words on each page come to life with the help of a mother's voice.
Story time wasn't always something Kiara looked forward to. The 24 year old mother of two used to have more important things to do; at least that's what she thought until story time was taken away. Instead of reading to her 2 and 7 year old girls Kiara must read to a recorder. "When she needs me all she's got to do is put that little cd in and just hear mom's voice. And; we read that book together. So, it's means a lot. This program is great." Kiara hasn't held her girls in months, in person visits are not allowed at the La Crosse county jail.
Kiara is a drug addict. She's been behind bars since October when she got high and drove her car into a restaurant drive-thu, nearly killing herself and an employee. "The system is right. I can't be a mom if I'm doing those things."
Helping women like Kiara become better moms is one goal of the Jail Ministry's "storybook" program. Private donors pay for the books, cd's, and postage, and volunteers spend one night a month helping incarcerated women record a special message and bedtime story for their kids.
"There are very few moms that we see that don't get a little choked up or teary-eyed. Some enormously so that they can't even read.", say volunteer Dee Paque.
There are more than a dozen moms behind bars in La Crosse. Dee knows many of them well because they've been in and out of jail for most of their child's life. A frustrating fact. Still, Dee keeps coming back. "I do it because I keep hoping that some how, someway, they will learn something from it."
J+Kiara says she's learned to make better choice. She swears this is the last time she will record a bed time story. "When I read those books I feel like she's sitting right next to me. That's why I read the way I do. And; I just feel like, she doesn't forget the mom I have been and the mom I can be because I know I'm a great mom."
Staying sober and out of jail will not be easy for Kiara, but this time she says she's determined her story will have a happy ending.
Kiara hopes to be released sometime early next year. She plans on living with her mom and her daughters while she continues to get treatment for her addictions.
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