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Soroptimist International Helps Formerly Incarcerated Woman Live Her Dreams

July 8, 2020

By Rachel Friederich

DOC Communications

Two women, one holding a framed award

Daidre Kimp-Carter (left), stands with Natalia Lopez, her mentor from the If Project at a February 2020 ceremony. Kimp-Carter was previously incarcerated at the Washington Corrections Center for Women and is now a recipient of Soroptomist International of Cascadia Online’s Live Your Dream Award. (Photo courtesy by Soroptimist International of Cascadia Online)

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Daidre (pronounced DAY-dree) Kimp-Carter never thought spending time in a correctional facility would lead her to a newfound career path. During her two-year sentence for theft charges, Kimp-Carter gave birth to and raised an infant, led Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, helped incarcerated military veterans apply for benefits and prepared her peers for job searches as they left the facility.

Now Soroptimist International is helping Kimp-Carter as she works toward her goal of getting a master’s degree in social work. Local and regional chapters of the organization have selected Kimp-Carter as one recipient of its Live Your Dream Awards. The awards give financial help to women striving to enhance their economic status and create better lives for themselves and their families by obtaining education and training. The awards can be used for tuition, books, childcare, transportation, household bills or whatever else may pose an economic hardship.

Kimp-Carter received a total of $2,500 from the local and regional chapters this year. She’s also in the running to receive a Live Your Dream Award of up to $10,000 at the national level. Live Your Dream Awards national committee members will select those winners this summer.

“I’ve learned that I am a pretty strong woman and there’s nothing I can’t do,” said Kimp-Carter, who released from Washington Corrections Center for Women in October 2019.

Kimp-Carter is taking online classes at Seattle Central College while working full-time in human resources for a private company. Her ultimate goal is to become a women’s life coach. She’s already earned her bachelor’s degree and is set to complete her master’s degree in 2022.

She said the decision to become a life coach came clear to her while she was at the correctional facility.

“I knew that I needed to change”

“Being incarcerated made me lose my fear of things that are impossible,” the 43-year-old Kimp-Carter said. “It was God telling me ‘You need to sit down and take a break and figure out what you’re going to do.’ I knew that I needed to change. I didn’t know yet what needed to change. I just knew something needed to change.”

Kimp-Carter became involved in nearly every rehabilitative program the facility had to offer and became a mentor and role model for other incarcerated women and mothers.

For example, she mentored women in the Residential Parenting Program (RPP) (pdf) and Girl and Boy Scouts Beyond Bars. The RPP allows pregnant incarcerated women to keep their newborns with them for up to 30 months. Women in the program must have 30 months or fewer remaining on their sentences to allow for the women and children to leave the facility together. The Boy and Girl Scouts of America have troops specifically for children of incarcerated parents. Participating correctional facilities allow the troops to visit their parents at the facility as a way to help strengthen parent-child bonds and build resilience.

Kimp-Carter, who had three other children before coming to the correctional facility, said she was grateful she was able to spend time with her kids while incarcerated. She added many of the women at the facility were first-time mothers, or moms who had never been separated from their children before. The moms often came to Kimp-Carter for advice on how to bond with their children within the confines of incarceration and deal with the tough emotions that come with not being able to see their families every day.

“I helped them and that helped me,” Kimp-Carter said. “It made me feel good. Hearing that ‘Oh my gosh, you helped me!’ enough times made me confident that I know what I am doing, hearing feedback from those mothers.”

A passion for helping women

Kimp-Carter discovered she had a passion for helping women. She volunteered with a local rotary club who came in to lead resume-writing workshops for soon-to-be released women. Kimp-Carter’s former husband is in the Navy, so she started volunteering with an incarcerated women veteran’s group and helped incarcerated veterans apply for benefits with the Veteran’s Administration.

Sharon Kirkpatrick, chair of the Washington Women Veteran’s Advisory Committee, helped launch the incarcerated women veteran’s program nine years ago. She is also a volunteer for the Washington Corrections Center for Women’s boy scouts program and observed Daidre with the scout troops.

“She was a very positive force in the troop, with a daughter and son in the scouts,” Kirkpatrick said. “Right away when I saw her participate, I could tell she was very serious. You’re teaching life skills and you want the moms and children not to become another generation of incarcerated persons. We want to break that cycle.”

Kimp-Carter says she’s determined to help herself and others break that cycle. She worked in the Women’s Village program at the facility, where women give each other peer support, and helped them plan their goals for education, sober living and other aspects of their reentry. She also volunteered with the local Rotary club to lead resume writing workshops and help incarcerated women map out their reentry plans.

“Women can struggle getting and keeping a job and earning money in that job,” Kimp-Carter said. “I want to be there to help women with whatever struggle is coming their way, I want to make sure they are ready for all of that. Those are the tools I want to be able to provide.”

“I think she’s going to do great things”

Sarah Miller, president of Soroptimist International’s regional Soroptimist International Cascadia Online, said Kimp-Carter’s drive is an example of what the Live Your Dream Award embodies.

“She made a mistake and she’s resolved not to make those same mistakes again and she’s putting her life on a different path,” Miller said. “Daidre is a determined individual and she’s determined to make a new life so she can better help other people and keep her family together. I think she’s going to do great things.”