My name is Stefanie and I am writing you to express my full support for The Family is First Project.
Mrs. Johnson has developed and implemented a program that creates transformational change not only in incarcerated individuals, but also in their families.
In the beginning of the year, my fiance, Joshua Lee Wade -currently incarcerated at the Warren Correctional Institution- first approached me about the program. He stated that it was geared towards improving communication between incarcerated individuals and their families. Since I am a very skeptical person by nature, I immediately wondered if the program would have any beneficial impacts on our relationship. Back then, I felt like our communication was already strong and effective.
Little did I know that Mrs. Johnson would push us to new limits. During one of the meetings at the prison, Mrs. Johnson asked us to open up about our pasts. She presented us one condition, and the condition was to truly listen to each other. In other words: one person talks, the other person listens. At first I thought that this should be a piece of cake. After all, I had been a daughter and sister my entire life. I had taught children for several years, and so, surely I had listened to others and what they had to say.
Listening to others for 15 or 20 minutes without interrupting them is a skill that needs to be learned. Without Mrs. Johnson’s facilitation of the conversation, I wouldn’t -to this day- know what effective communication really is. I wouldn’t know how to listen to another person for 15 minutes straight. I now challenge everyone to ask their loved ones some very deep questions, and to just listen to them.
Not only did The Family is First Project greatly impact our communication skills. It also gave us the opportunity to meet families that are in similar situations. The support network that The Family is First constitutes is unique in nature, and I know a lot of families who now continue to offer each other emotional support.
To sum it up, I would love to see The Family is First Project not only continued at WCI, but also expanded to other institutions. It transforms incarcerated individuals and their families in that it gives them tools to communicate effectively and to lean on each other for support.
Hello, my name is Gladys. I have a Son, Antonio and he’s incarcerated. Mrs. Stacie Johnson was such an asset in Our Lives. Her program The Family is First, helped him (and me), to break down the barriers that sometimes can be created when a loved one goes to jail. She spoke with Family members of the inmate’s, and we (Family member’s), met on the outside for Group meeting’s, financial Burden’s, getting to know our incarcerated Loved one’s all over again, as well as being able to discuss anything we were going through. Mrs. Johnson was also able to have group gatherings INSIDE the Prison Facilities, where Raw emotions were unveiled and Fathers were reconnected with their Son’s. She is such a Blessing to ANY inmate/family member that she has come in contact with!!!! Had it not been for this truly Blessed Woman, I’m not sure what we would have done. I wish she could go to ALL the Correctional Facilities in Ohio, because she is a wonderful person spiritually, physically, and emotionally!
I Love her commitment to this Program!!!! My son and I still talk about her, to this day.
He is unable to participate in her program because He is now in Lebanon Correctional Institution, where she does not come. I pray that she will because she possesses a Wonderful gift within Her!! I appreciate this Woman’s commitment to this awesome program and my Son and I were truly blessed to be part of it.
First off I want to say thank you to the gentleman that suggested my son to get involved with the Family’s First Program. My son has been incarcerated for 6 years now and is serving a double life sentence. It was devastating to me and my family.
I felt that there was no one out there to talk to that would understand what I was going thru. The Family’s First Program has helped me and my son tremendously, without this program I would still be where I was 6 years ago feeling alone.
Just knowing that you are not alone in this world and that there is someone out there going thru this same situation. This program has shown me how to cope and deal with my son being incarcerated. Just having someone to talk to that knows how it feels to have someone incarcerated is a blessing. When my son started in this program he was just going thru the motions and we didn’t think he was going to be able to complete it. But this program has changed him to where he is a different person, it has shown him how to cope and how to deal with his anger.
Also, you are getting to know other families that are going thru the same stuff that I am and it is nice to be able to talk to other people. I just want to thank Pastor Stacie Johnson for the Family’s First Program and helping me and my son in dealing with his incarceration. When I first came to the first meeting, I sat and cried thru the whole thing because everything Pastor Johnson said that was me. I was blaming myself but as time went on I started to get stronger and stronger and I know longer cried. I just want to say again that I am so thankful for the Family’s First Program.
I am looking forward to my son graduating, this is the first program he has been involved in and because of Family First he has participated in many other programs. I just once again want to say thank you to Pastor Stacie Johnson for the Family’s First Program.
Remarks on the Family Is First Program:
First, let me say that it is and was a blessing to meet and work with Pastor Stacey as she is a fully invested worker for the uplifting and reintegration of offenders and ex-offenders.
She has helped my family keep our son on track and alive while incarcerated and gave us an opportunity to reiterate to him things we taught and he ignored to his demise. He has grown up tremendously over the last nine years and truly has come to understand his role and position in life. As his father I had a chance to talk to him again about things we discussed and he admitted a clearer understanding and regret for his arrogance.
Qa’id has participated in counseling for himself and services for others. He coordinated several prison programs and lowered his status which afforded him the opportunity to be moved to a less restricted prison environment. Now he serves others by acting as a medic transport person.
Through the exposure and participation in “The Family Is First Program”, Qa’id has been encouraged to take a realistic self evaluation of his life … of his past, present and future. Both inmates and loved ones have learned how to relax and share their troubling thoughts.
This program allows all the participants to have a safe and trusting environment, for a heartfelt conversation. The program is scripted and guided by Pastor Stacie Johnson. Pastor Johnson sets the tone for the inmates and loved ones to speak freely and to feel safe enough to want to share their deep thoughts and deepest feelings.
Since we became members of “The Family Is First”. We have witnessed a healing between family and other loved ones, my family was a recipient of this blessing. Evangelist Stacie has used her own life experiences and has inspired others to reach out and forgive each other. By exposing the test in their lives and keeping God First, I feel that this program needs to be repeated in every prison in the USA and abroad. I am sure it is needed and can help others as it has done for my family and so many others.
Yusuf and Gwen Aqueelah Salaam
To whom it may concern, My name is Bruce L Sams and I attended the Family is First Project ran by Apostle Stacie Johnson for approximately 3 years. My first year was as a student. I learned how to reinforce my relationship with my loved ones and friends while being locked up. My next 2 years was as an alumni/facilitator. During that time I continued to learn and grow through the topics discussed. The whole process of the Family is First Project is to strengthen the bond between an inmate and his family or friend who has a short amount of time or an inmate who may not even be going home. By keeping bonds strong between friends and loved ones it enables the inmate to keep his eye on the prize as well as eases the stress on his family. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have taken this program as it has helped me grow as a man.
I am also grateful for Ms. Johnson’s devotion and dedication to making a difference in peoples lives, for she is truly doing the lords work. Thank you for your time.
Bruce L Sams
Dear Mrs. Johnson, First and foremost, I remembered how you helped me grow mentally, physically, and spiritually. The family is first program help me along with my loved ones how to not become a burden while being incarcerated.
To learn how to manage your financial means without hurting your loved ones. It helps your family to understand that there are other families who have the same hurt that they have, and to actually see that it’s not just them by their self.
To hear other people speak about the hurt and pain that their incarcerated loved one has caused them, but they just didn’t know how to tell them. It’s an amazing experience, and I recommend it for anyone who is time with or without a loved one.
The family is first has had a huge impact on my life. It is because this program and powerful apostle Johnson that I have a better relationship with my family and that am able to live a productive life while I’m in prison. Not only did the family is first project open my understanding on how to have a healthy relationship while I’m incarcerated, but it also helped me to be a better man. I’ve learned how to establish boundaries and before my relationship with family could grow I had to uproot the cause of the pain and resentment. During this class my family and I have become closer and I have gained their level of trust and we moved to a place in our relationship where we can have honest communication. We learned the difference between conversation and communication.
My perspective has matured and I gained life lesson being a part of the family is first project. I am capable of making productive decisions now and know how to handle situations I am faced with.
Truthfully, my life has improved and because of the time and effort Apostle Stacie Johnson has not only put into the class but into individuals my relationship with my love ones has enhanced……I’m grateful and honored to have been a part of the family is first project……
Dear Pastor Johnson;
Hello! This email may be unexpected but I do hope that you did expect to hear from me at some point. When I told you that The Family Is First Project had a very positive impact on my life, I was speaking truth.
I am so very grateful for you and your program in my life. Because of you, my relations with my family is growing stronger. Just last month, I heard from one of my brothers for the first time in almost 20 years. It was due to the building I have been doing with the family you met in the program. Life with my family is so much better.
Thanks again for that initial guidance. I am actually taking a break to establish balance in my life. I have been doing a lot of reading, exercising, and bonding with GOD. I have also been focused on organizing my plan for the next phase of my life. I will get involved in programming soon. As my plans unfold, I am on my way to becoming that motivational speaker. 🙂 I can’t wait to start using my very special two year planner. I’m going to start using it in December. The plans that I have will change lives. It may take some time, but my experience with the Family is First Project at Warren has shown me that I can do anything I set my mind to. That is huge! Well, I’ll close for now. Please send my love to everyone, and send a special shout to Ms. P. You and her are very special women, giving so much of yourselves to us men behind bars. Thank you is not enough, but for a lack of not being able to give more at this time, thank you anyway.
Take care and GOD bless you!
Pastor Stacie, I just wanted to send you an email and thank you for all the work you do and helping to set up programs like the one we had today.
Please send my best regards to your husband his word was right on time and I’m not sure if you were able to see or not, but God was definitely doing some molding in my life and was breaking some things off my life…that’s why I got so choked up when he asked me to recite the bible verse regarding thinking like a child and acting like a child. standing in front of that group of people the holy spirit grabbed a hold of me and as began reciting the gospel it was so powerful i couldn’t barely contain myself. I’m sorry for rambling just please send my best to your husband and let him know his message didn’t fall on deaf ears.
The family is first project clearly made me and more effective communicator. As a result of this program I was able to gain trust with my family.
A lot of information was withheld from me because of my in mature mind set. By me being consistent with attending class, I have now been empowered to lead and provide encouragement to family and also fellow inmates. As of now I look back and see how everyone in the class is growing. I mean nobody stayed the same. People who did not speak at all is now speaking in public, boldly. Guys who had a hard time understanding the role of a real man is no longer lost and confused, I will never forget that a man is a protector, the provider, and one who holds strength. I can strongly say this program has given me hope, It reminded me that I still have purpose. I have opportunities to operate in my gift.(Nov.7) In closing I would like to end with a quick testimony. I’ve been locked up going on eight years for a murder I did not do. I could of threw the towel in years ago meaning giving up this class gave me an expectation. I knew I was here for a purpose. NOW GOD IS MOVING IN MY SITUATION LIKE NEVER BEFORE.MY CODEPENDENT who lied on me is now taking back his statement. In that’s all I needed for a new trail. When I actually come home, I want to help out with this family is first project. Free of charge…amen
Pastor Stacie, I believe the greatest impact “The family is First” has had on me first of all is the example that you all displayed as a couple. The love and communication was evident. I learned that I was very selfish and to have a God centered relationship I must put my spouse first. This has allowed me to really invest in her by listening and being attentive to her needs. I learned that if we keep Jesus at the center of our union it will not be based on our personal opinions but on what thus says the Lord! The greatest thing I took away with me was learning to develop and cultivate the seed that attracted Chantee’ to me in the first place. That seed for me was honesty, so I make a responsibility to always be up front and honest. I also learned a lot from the other couples. I still teach on the different levels of relationship that you all taught. I praise God for your vision, continue to be obedient. Jesus loves you and so do I
To whomever it may please, My name is Merrell Dodds Sr. I am incarcerated at Warren Correctional Institution and I’m a part of the Family is First program.
This program has truly helped me, I’ve learned more in this program then I’ve ever learned on the streets being in this program has really opened my eyes to the hurt and pain I’ve brought to my family and even myself.
This program also blessed my growth process in life before this program I didn’t know how to be a father, son, brother, husband, friend or a man but now I can say that I am everything I said above because of the time, patience, wisdom and genuine love Pastor Stacie Johnson has put into me as a person and us as a program/family. I got 15years but I can get out early in the year 2020 and just having that time puts a lot of stress on me, my children, my mom, and my fiancé and we started to let the stress and sadness take over our lives but when I got my family involved in this program it was like “man we got to get each other back on track” cause we all we got and family means everything we’ve learned how to put everything in GOD’S hands and just walk in faith. I am grateful that pastor Johnson stuck with me through all my mishaps and all my difficulties she still made sure that I became the man I am today and my life will never be the same because now I know I deserve better than the streets and jail and that I know my children deserves more out of me, they don’t deserve not having me there. This program is a HUGE part of my life and forever will it be I would advise anybody who needs help molding, any family relationships that needs help molding, this is the program for them. This program is for the real so if you fake and you don’t like to hear the real about life or yourself then I don’t know what to tell you cause with this program it’s about growth and that’s what really going to give you growth!.
Forever will I appreciate this program I truly love it with all of my heart and for anyone who joins the next class be ready cause it’s going to get real. Thank you and GOD BLESS!.
Merrell Dodds Sr. (inmate)
Dear Pastor Johnson
Family first not only helped my marriage, it assisted it. Not only did it strengthen my marriage and family relationships, family first exposed it. When i say expose i mean it truly allowed me to see and detect where in all places the little foxes were spoiling my vines. As head of my house even from prison there were a lot of things i had to re-learn that i really, really thought i knew.
As a Man of God, teacher, Life-Coach, and Husband, I came to realize my communication had to change when it came to communicating with my wife.
It is often very hard to reveal all that’s screaming inside of you to be trusted and loved when you from a Lifestyle of Major Drug Hustling. I had to first know within myself that the transformation back from Tone Tone DeLeon to Antonio Michael DeLeon was true and regardless who ride and don’t ride I must become a cleaner, more pure responsible me. And, prior to family first I thought I was there, but The Family is First Project ultimately assisted me in not only getting there, but in becoming the Lead Co-Facilitator who assisted many, many other men and their families in getting there. I could go on and on but I won’t but I will end by saying that THERE IS NOTHING THAT SCREAMS GENTLEMAN OR LADY MORE THAN A MAN OR A WOMAN WHO LIVES THE ART OF PLACING IN Proper perspective his or her family, Wife, Husband , boyfriend or girlfriend FIRST! May Gods hand be forever on your life so that people like myself can not only feel it but experience it. Real love from your truest Team Captain………………… God Bless.
Antonio Michael DeLeon,
Dear Pastor Johnson, from this day forward, we men are required as kings to show and prove that we care about our loved ones. And, we all make responsible decisions that will help us lead our families in a productive direction to leave a lasting legacy. We all know it may not be that simple, but with the lessons learned in The Family is First Project and the true determination for all to turn out right. I believe this can be done by all of the men and families in the program. As we continue to love one another and be in peace we wish you and the program much success.
Jerome Andrews Jr.
The Family is First Project is excellent in finding and repairing the broken points in any relationship. I’ve learned the fundamentals of healthy communication and I’ve received the tools to maintain my family relationships through hardships. I would recommend this program to any family of an incarcerated person even if you believe that your relationship is strong and healthy.
Pat McGail ( inmate)
The Family is First Project is a program that strengthens the bonds of family. The program provides participants the chance to see where they are strong in their relationships and where they are weak. The foundation of this opportunity is also blended with the support of the Word of God.
Mrs. Stacie Johnson, creator and facilitator of the Family is First Project challenges he class to look deep within themselves and realize of they have errors in their thinking. Once she has awaken her students to where they need to improve, she then works with the families so they know the proper way to support their loved ones while incarcerated. After she has sharpened everyone’s skills, she brings them together to show how much more effective their communication can be with one another. The Family is First Project is a program I would highly recommend. Unlike state offered programs where some facilitators don’t truly care about results, Mrs. Johnson has walked in our shoes which gave birth to this program, and she cares to see other people teaching them not to experience what she had to endure.
The Family is First Project gave my family and me an opportunity to grow together; we have never had in 18 years. This program is one every inmate should be an alumni of.
Jeff Eberle (inmate)