Resource fair for families set

Published 8:03 pm Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Families affected by incarceration can visit ForKids in downtown Suffolk on Saturday for much-needed guidance and assistance.

The Suffolk Public Library will hold “Reentering Together: A Resource Fair for Families Impacted by Incarceration” this Saturday at the ForKids center located at 119 W. Constance Road. The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will be open to anyone impacted by incarceration, including returning citizens, children, parents, caregivers and loved ones.

According to a press release, the library’s goal “is to welcome families impacted by incarceration, help them find resources related to education, finances, jobs and more, and encourage them to take advantage of available services.”

Email newsletter signup

“Through Suffolk Public Library’s work at the Western Tidewater Regional Jail with our Stronger Through Stories program, we recognized that incarcerated parents and their families are in need of many resources to keep the family unit strong during the length of their sentence,” Keirstin Winslow, Suffolk Public Library community services librarian, stated in the press release at Suffolk.

“The library is in an advantageous place to connect impacted families to these resources,” Winslow continued. “We want all people to feel welcome in the library and know we are a community resource.”

There will be scheduled activities for all ages during the event, as well as informational resources designed to help attendees navigate life both during and after incarceration.

Adults may participate in the “Creating Your Vision” workshop presented by Man Foundation, and the “Nurturing Parenting” session by Western Tidewater Community Services Board.

Tony Jones of Virginia Organizing, and founder of the mentoring program Helping Young People Everywhere, will present two sessions on Saturday. These will be “After Incarceration: First Steps for Returning Citizens and Their Families,” and “Stories of Hope.”

Children will enjoy crafts, story time and green screen photos provided by the Suffolk Public Library. Magician John Kingry will perform, as well, and the B.A.R.K.S. therapy dogs will be available for children to practice their reading.

Attendees can also meet the authors behind “B.O.S.S. Stories: 11 Real Life Stories About the Impact of Incarceration on Students and Educators,” a book written by students from Brighton Elementary School in Portsmouth who have been impacted by incarceration.

“Reentry is often seen as a solemn affair. However, it also can be a celebration of a new start,” Winslow wrote in an email. “We want to celebrate the possibility of new beginnings and show that we are a resource to all who are impacted by incarceration.​”

Suffolk Public Library will have a library card sign-up station at the Saturday event, and informational tables will be arranged by ForKids, Boys and Girls Club, Anthem and The Up Center. Attendees can also enter a raffle for a chance to win prizes.

There is no cost to attend the event. A full event schedule including session times can be found through the library’s online calendar at, and through the
“Reentering Together Resource Fair” Facebook event page.