January 31, 2023

The first lady speaker in the Motivational Series at Cayman Islands HMP Northward

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DSC_0125 PRINTPrison Chaplain Ms. Cathy Gomez spearheaded a motivational speaker series late last year, the aim of which is to expose prisoners to positive members of the community who can reinforce their rehabilitation goals and provide them with hope and support towards achieving them.

Last Thursday night the first female motivational speaker spent time with a group of about 35 inmates in the Chapel. Mrs. Kathryn Dinspel-Powell, the Deputy Chief Officer in the Ministry of Home Affairs, is responsible for the Corrections & Rehabilitation Division which includes the oversight of the Prison Service.

Mrs. Dinspel-Powell chose not to stand behind the podium as is the tradition, but instead sat with the men in a camp style format which promoted togetherness and interaction. The men in attendance were a diverse group with a cross section of age ranges and nationalities. Some of them were known to her and others she met for the first time.

She started off by saying that she had struggled to figure out what she could share with the group that would really motivate and decided to share something that she had found motivating and inspiring in her own life in the hopes that it would resonate with at least some of them. She introduced the group to a book that had been gifted to her a couple of years ago entitled: “One Good Deed – 365 Days of Trying to Be Just a Little Bit Better” by Erin McHugh which is a daily inspirational book that follows the journey of the author for a year during which she dedicates her life to helping others rather than focusing on her own issues and problems.

Mrs. Powell read an excerpt from the book that she explained moved her to tears on more than one occasion and encouraged the group to focus less on what had gone wrong in their lives, what was missing and what they needed. Instead, she asked them to focus on doing one good deed or positive thing for someone else each day, no matter how small or whether it is even noticed. She promised that this shift in focus to positivity would have multiplying effects in their lives.

Mrs. Dinspel-Powell told the group that the most gratifying job she ever had was as a therapist at the Dept. of Substance Abuse where she worked with offenders and those suffering from substance abuse and their families for almost 12 years. She said that each time she meets a former client who shares that they are still enjoying sobriety and experiencing positive change in their life path, she is humbled and honoured to have been a part of their journey and experiences a joy that is difficult to explain. Helping others and seeing positive growth and change gives her hope for the future.

She encouraged the prisoners not to allow their past mistakes and the judgement of others to stifle their dreams and plans for the future. She warned them that they will fail at times but that it is up to them to dust themselves off, use it as a learning experience and keep trying…… that their efforts will pay off. She asked them all to work hard at being different people and not to let prison life define them. She reassured them that there are many, many people who believe that they have the potential to become positive contributing members of society.

She challenged them to commit to positive change while they are in Prison rather than waiting until they are released, as they owe it to themselves to start being their “best self” today. She told them that by making a conscious effort to do something positive for someone else each day, they can begin paving the way to a better life.

Mrs. Dinspel-Powell left them with this affirmation: “We believe the best is yet to come for you and that you all have what it takes to be the best person you can be!”
The series continues next month.

Pictured: Deputy Chief Officer Kathryn Dinspel Powell holds a camp-side chat with prisoners.

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