Local high school students contribute their writing skills to highlight some of the charities that benefit from Old Newsboys funding. See more of the charities served at OldNewsboysDay.org.
Shawntelle Fisher spent most of her early years stuck in a trend of recidivism.
As is the case with some young women in America, Fisher experienced an upbringing of pressure after becoming a mother at age 15. She became involved in the justice system at age 17 and continued offending until she reached her late 20s.
Fisher’s seventh offense was her final one, as she decided once and for all that she would escape the justice system and help other incarcerated women in the process. It began at the Federal Correctional Institution in Waseca, Minnesota, where Fisher joined a tutoring program to help other inmates earn their GED ─ the same program in which she would eventually become a leader.
“I spent [many] years of my life cycling in and out of prison,” Fisher said. “As a result, my daughter faced many challenges that come along with having an incarcerated parent.”
In 2018, Fisher established The SoulFisher Ministries, a nonprofit completely dedicated to helping women and children who have some form of justice involvement in their lives including children with parents in the justice system. To date, the ministry has assisted over 1,000 students and 800 women in escaping the cycle of recidivism.
Although the pandemic has affected the nonprofit in the last year, they have continued to move forward providing services. “Knowing that so many people are struggling with challenges makes it difficult to be content with not doing something,” Fisher said. “When COVID-19 closed the schools, I couldn't rest knowing the students we serve, and so many others, would lose access to the food they rely on.”
The unrest caused many students to feel the same way as Fisher, including 7-year-old Lauren Williams. “The ministry gave me the confidence to ask for help in class,” Williams said. “I felt unorganized without the help of Ms. Fisher and her staff.”
Fisher encourages anyone involved with the justice system to reach out for help when they are struggling. She stresses to find your ‘it’.
“Your ‘it’ is whatever drives your passion and makes you stand out in a crowd,” Fisher said. “Don't waste time chasing someone else's ‘it’. If you are struggling there are organizations like The SoulFisher Ministries that are waiting to help you.”