The PRISM Family Picnic
The impact of incarceration can destroy families across generations. It is an incessant grief that is difficult or impossible for families to talk about outside of the home. Loss of loved ones, financial stress, divorce, job loss...things that would cause stress in any family are amplified in families who have someone living in prison. Celebratory events like holidays, weddings, and birthdays are especially difficult, filled with sadness and loss. Grandparents taking care of children, children feeling the need to take care of grandparents and younger siblings...all trying to fill a void...longing for someone who isn't there.
This is why the Prism Family Picnic hosted by St. Matthew's Pacific Palisades, in collaboration with Get On the Bus and the Center for Restorative Justice Works, is so profoundly special. Families are invited to relax, play, feast and swim all afternoon in a space that safely and compassionately holds their sadness, grief and shame without judgment. Hosted with generosity and abundant grace, the parishioners of St. Matthew’s make this day a deeply needed respite for many souls. Read below a reflection from Jackie Ehlers, who has championed this picnic for over a decade.
Gracious Hosts and Partners
After a three year pause during the pandemic, the PRISM Family picnic is back at St. Matthew’s parish in Pacific Palisades! The parish is blessed with beautiful grounds and a large pool. For years we have hosted a day-long picnic for PRISM family members on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.
Dozens of parishioners join together to make the event happen. Talented bakers and cooks put together a buffet that begins with breakfast, segues into lunch and finishes with a variety of desserts. Volunteers of all ages make sure our guests feel welcome and cared for as they relax, picnic and play on the large shady patio and grassy meadow. The pool is open for swimming, with lifeguards and youth volunteers making sure pool time is safe and fun. Parishioners shop for and put together backpacks filled with quality school supplies to send
home with every child attending.
Our goal is to welcome family members of incarcerated individuals to a day of rest, respite and abundance. It’s a day filled with joy for both volunteers and guests, and the parish is excited to be re-starting the tradition.
My favorite part of the event is the breadth of hands-on support within the parish, from kindergarten students who come help assemble fruit trays to seniors who bake muffins and help with clean-up. It’s been three years since we held the last picnic and instead of losing momentum we have widespread eagerness to start again. It is delightful to see how much energy there is to make this a special day for our guests!
- Jackie Ehlers St Matthew's Pacific Palisades
How You Can Help!
Help us get our PRISM family to the picnic by helping us pay for the buses! Here is how -