Black Cat Book Review
Miss Brenda and the Loveladies by Brenda Spahn and Irene Zutell
Brenda Spahn grew up poor, she worked hard, built a successful business, and became rich. She was busy with her family and her business, enjoying the good life and then she almost went to prison. During her legal struggles she prayed and promised God she would change her focus and give of her time, talent, and money to those in need.
She volunteered at the Julia Turwiler Prison for Women in Alabama. What she saw and heard there made her angry and broke her heart inspiring her to make a difference in the lives of at least a few these women prisoners. In spite of the opposition of officials and professionals in the prison system she was permitted to take women being released from Turwiler into her home.
This is the true story of Brenda Spahn and the first year of the Whole Way House. It was not all smooth and easy but it led to the founding of the Lovelady Center that today serves 450 women and children. At the Center the women and children are cared for daily; learning basic skills and receive counselling and rehabilitation, career counselling and job training preparing them for life outside of prison, with homes and jobs and success on their own.
The beginning of Brenda’s story with seven women straight from prison to her home is at times funny and often heartbreaking. She tells of trips to Walmart to buy underwear and toothbrushes and how difficult it was for the women to accept the fact that they didn’t have to wear “white cotton granny pants” anymore and that they could have whatever color toothbrush they wanted. Another anecdote tells of their going to out to dinner for the first time. How the women struggled with the menu and what to order and how to order. And when something frightened them they all hid under the table.
At home there were petty squabbles and childish behavior. The hard to learn lessons of how to eat and enjoy the meal, to do laundry and house-keeping. The lessons of responsibility, accountability, honesty, and trust. All the things we take for granted were new and unknown to them. I couldn’t help but admire their courage as they faced the frightening world of freedom for the first time.
Brenda’s story is not without its ups and downs. There are difficult family decisions to make and neighbors less than happy to have ex-cons living down the street and prison officials waiting for her to fail. There were the times Brenda wondered how it would all work out but she had faith in God and His purpose for her and the women in her care. Miss Brenda loved and respected all the women from the start and they came to love and respect her.
This book was sent to me free of charge by Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.