Inmates Explore Creativity through Writing Contest Organized by Heard

September 8, 2022: Our thanks to the City of Alexandria Sheriff’s Department for this coverage of our writing contest with the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center. So many people worked so hard to make this contest a success, and we extend a special shoutout to our judges: Mary Wadland, publisher of The Zebra, historian, genealogist and author Char McCargo Bah, and Zeina Azzam, Alexandria’s poet laureate.

And an even bigger shoutout to Sheriff Sean Casey and the detention center team! We are so grateful for their support and the hours of logistics that a virtual awards ceremony takes. That said, let’s hope that next year our awards ceremony can be in person again! You can read the entire article here.

Gratitude, Gratitude Everywhere!

November and December, 2022: Sharmila had gratitude on her mind and she finished up the year with her Fun Fridays assignment with the Casa Chirilagua kids. In the first three pictures, she asked the kids to create what they are grateful for in two drawings – one picture of what they are grateful for that can buy and one picture of what they are grateful for that they cannot buy.

Now take a looks – it sure seems to us that the kids were much more focused on emphasizing what they cannot buy – family, friends, faith, pets! There’s never a bad time to feel grateful, right?

And the last photo of that little fella proudly showing us his green creation? That was from Sharmila’s November 11 class, where she asked the kids to say “thank you” to veterans. Kinda makes your heart melt, doesn’t it?


You’re Hired!

December 20, 2022, Friends of Guest House – Nothing sounds sweeter to a job applicant than “You’re hired!” And today we helped our Friends of Guest House residents get that much closer to hearing those magic words. Our Heard etiquette instructor, Fannie Allen of the Allen Protocol & Leadership Institute, spent weeks teaching them the tips and tricks to land that job. I was asked to serve as a volunteer interviewer that day and evaluate these strong, determined women on their interview skills – their greeting, presence, dress, confidence, etc. As always, I was completely blown away by their unique combination of grit and engaging personality. I would have hired every one of them, and I hope potential employers do as well!

So Much Fun at Fun Fridays this Fall!

November 16, 2022: Just because you haven’t heard from us in awhile doesn’t mean we aren’t hard at work! And we’ll bet no one has worked harder these last few months than our Heard artist teacher Sharmila Karamchandani! Our partner Casa Chirilagua specifically asked for her when their after school program, Fun Fridays, started up again late last August. It was challenging, we told her – she would have two half-hour periods with up to 19 kids each (yes, each. For a total of 38 in a hour!). Could she do it?

Why of course she could! And when it was time to bring in a new art program (we usually switch out every month or two), the kids weren’t having it! They wanted Miss Sharmila, and she’s with her kids til Christmas break. And maybe after that? Who knows?

What we do know is that these kids love her! And we have proof – when a scheduling conflict caused a few kids to miss her class, one little guy had a meltdown at his desk. And why wouldn’t he? Each week Sharmila figures out how to get them to create something fun and interesting in just 25 minutes, using things most of us toss out – paper plates, toilet paper holders, paper bags, and straws. Add some paint, markers, and glue, and voila! Magic!

We’ve compiled a short “best of” here. Can you match the photo to the project?

A. Divers-city: creating inclusive buildings. This is a superman school where kids learn how to become superheroes.
B. Flying saucers from paper plates. This is a party saucer. No reports of abductions.
C. An owl from a toilet paper roll. (We’re all saving our TP rolls now in case she needs more).
D. Straw painting.
E. Abecederians (I had to look that word up).
F. Another Diver-sity building from a boy who always includes a bird in his drawings. Always.





by Christ Joshua M. Fletcher

Poetry, Arlington County Detention Facility/Heard/OAR writing contest, August 2022


Correct does it need to be corrected

Correctly has no matter being correction

When a newborn entered its life healthy it’s correct.

As its life have see’s other live’s doing or has done wrong & not applied to it is corrected.

Being aware of the unwealthy & still live correctly does not have time nor space

being within correction.

As thee matter which means subject, object, or person taking up space needs to be corrected.

Correctly when & or as not applied an person of correction will address you correct.

Well no-thing’s nothing will appear & as nobody even no one shall arrive to have you corrected.

Even each entire Dept. sheriff correction officer will be corrected.

Head of chain of command leads correctly

by male man made laws correct, confirm, complete, correction, corrected,


Poem from the <3 Heart by myself - Balance of Life

by Thomas Carlos Felder, Jr.

Poetry, Arlington County Detention Facility/Heard/OAR writing contest, August 2022


They see balance and they want to challenge or damage.

Thy heart <3 wants thy mind can’t percieve,

Bring in this state of pandemic a lot

of people run off envy and greed.

Our children look up to us

To balance their lives,

but from sitting in a 4×6 cell,

They can’t see how much we cry.

A true balance of life metaphoricly speaking

sometimes our heart <3 will die within.

We all miss our kin

Sometimes we have to tell our children,

beautiful lies to keep them happy inside.

Once is all it takes to upsetting thier normal lives,

That’s why it’s a must to have balance of life! 😊





by Hassen Hassen

Poetry, Arlington County Detention Facility/Heard/OAR writing contest, August 2022


How can we protect our goals;

When we are not being keepers of each other souls?

Obsessed with our past;

too blind to see our present.

Too caught up in current trash;

To understand our future’s present.

In a tureen; lost in a sea of oblivion;

looking for away out; out this morass material.

Reaching for a hand; to pull us up.

Event a rope or a ladder might make us jump.

Shedding tears of joy; and smiles of sorrow;

painfully hoping and happily despiring.

With pain so deep, like the marrow’s in our bones;

And comradery so fake, like a cartoon’s souls.

We both hungry for just a little refuge;

But, all we feed each other is plates of subterfuge.

Brainwashed to inure less;

When we are supposed to be our best.

How do we protect our goals;

When we are not keepers of each other souls?

So, place me deep, where you look within;

abyssed in your soul when you need a friend.

Place it dearly next to your heart,

But never negated when we are apart.

And even thought we have different mothers;

That doesn’t mean we can’t be prison brothers.

Dom_Free/Free_Dom King-Dom/Dom/King

by Christ Joshua M. Fletcher

Poetry, Arlington County Detention Facility/Heard/OAR writing contest, August 2022



Mental Health Lied

D. H. S

Evil igh atan

Q Asked have she called my family? Hel-Nawh Requested to communicate/

Lack of honesty contact.

Time frame is lest then #5-10 mins.

They’re response is always’s:

OK-, Alright; Yeah; or nobodie answered;


I will try still lying! ORE ye know!

Never a correct complete answer!

Right: Some-thing (Left) wrong w/that answer

bcuz (No-thing’s) nothing is

OK, or right, or alright (which is changing

the chain of correct verbal communiteation

left wrong!….

Faith is Key (with artwork)

by AP22

Poetry, Arlington County Detention Facility/Heard/OAR writing contest, August 2022


Hand in hand,

Side by Side;

GOD is beginning to change the tide.

So just hold on,

don’t let go;

may GOD let it be so!


We have work to do,

And I onlhy want to;

Do it with you…

Let GOD in, your spirit

To HIM entrust;

And HE promises to

Lead us through:

The rest

Of this mess;

Into LOVE, Joy, peace


To do HIS work

And to live our BEST…


Im listening GOD,

You know ALL of my cares;

All of my Fears.

Even if I want to

keep them hidden;

but then it seems like I’m

put on the bench just


Out of the game of life,

until I acknowledge,

Theres nothing GOD don’t already know;

So why put on a show?

We need to be completely real;

with the MAKER of the universe,

So we can learn in life how to deal!

The tides are changing; a new

Life is coming out of all this rearranging

Our GOD just keeps in reassuring without

blame; with HIM our lives will never

be the same…

JESUS showed HIMSELF to me;

And let me know, FAITH IS THE KEY!

I’ll never forget that day;

Or all HIS HEART has to say!

I believe, in faith: TO LOVE GOD 1st;

HE keeps us safe,

We’ve already been through the worst…

And I can see, just up ahead, is our victory!