Families on the Outside hosts several family events every year. These events are designed to foster positive and fun activities where the entire family can participate together, building and strengthening bonds of love, even though everyone may be hurting in various ways because of the impact of incarceration.
Our many volunteers work together to make our family events fun and engaging, with all family members being honored and loved.
“I got to see my friends from the Christmas party and decorate eggs together that I took home! We even got to eat candy and see the Easter bunny! He was dancing when he came out and it was sooo funny! My friends and I were laughing so hard!” — 8 year old girl
“I enjoy the events that Families on the Outside holds for us all year long. The Easter party was relaxing and I appreciated how the volunteers helped me with my kids so I could just enjoy myself while we decorated eggs and visited together.” — a mother
“When that little girl said she came because she thought she was going to get something from her dad who is in jail, I realized that this wasn’t just about dying eggs ... this was about resurrecting bonds within a family.” — a volunteer
Children of all ages are able to come together with their families and celebrate Easter with other families. The party includes photos with the Easter Bunny, egg dying, crafts, and face painting. Food is provided.
“My friend gets to go fishing with his dad and grandpa all the time but my dad's in jail and my mom works a lot. One time, when I went to the beach with my grandma and my grandpa, my grandpa took me fishing, but I didn't get to catch anything. This time, I caught a fish and I got to keep my pole so I can maybe go with my friend when they go fishing! We even got to keep the fish and my mom was all grossed out but she let me help her cook it for dinner. I had so much fun that day.” — 9 year old boy
“I don’t know how to fish or what to do and I don't have any one in my life to take my kids fishing or do anything like that for me. I was so nervous about going, but the group encouraged me to come and I am so glad I did! It wasn’t too crowded or overwhelming and was incredibly organized. There were so many volunteers from the event to help my kids with their poles and how to bait the hook, and then on top of that, there were volunteers from Families on the Outside to help me chase my kids and keep a watchful eye on them throughout the day. It’s like a big family reunion when we get together. It’s amazing. I don't even know how to describe it! Just amazing.” — a mother
“This past year was our first time we set up a table and sponsored our kids for the Klineline fishing event. It was amazing because we ended up feeding everyone else that was there! Of course the fun part was watching all the kids play with the fish they just caught.” — a volunteer
Families on the Outside decided after talking to children of parents who attended group, that one of the most commonly expressed events that children said they missed with an absent father, was the opportunity to go fishing. The organization sponsors children to attend Klineline's fishing event that includes free bait, catching two fish and a brand new fishing pole. Additionally, both the event and Families on the Outside provide volunteers to assist families throughout the day. Families on the Outside also provides a free lunch while other organizations attending the event provide other free activities.
Children come and experience an exciting time of fishing free of charge! Each child receives: a fishing pole, shirt, and hat. Food and refreshments are provided at no charge to the participants. We also pair helpers with children giving parents the opportunity to take a break while the children enjoy a fun filled time of fishing.
Children and families can come and enjoy a day of fun with a carnival atmosphere. We provide a variety of games, crafts, food, cotton candy, popcorn, and ice cream. The event allows parents and children of all ages to enjoy a fun filled day together in a relaxing enjoyable picnic setting free of charge.
In 2013, Families on the Outside began the first themed annual picnic that was open to all who are involved in our organization. The event includes carnival games and tickets that can be cashed in for cotton candy, popcorn, face painting, temporary tattoos and other goodies! In addition to treats and games, Families on the Outside provides free lunch and water throughout the afternoon. The event is a wonderful opportunity for families to network with one another and catch up from the last event.
“There were clowns and squirt guns and free ice cream and cotton candy! I got my face painted and won lots of tickets!”
— 6 year old boy
“I was so surprised at how much stuff Families on the Outside had for this last summer picnic! I love that as parents we can get together throughout the year and get to know each other. It’s nice that my kids have friends who don't make them feel embarrassed about what they're going through.” — a mother
“We have had a few casual get-togethers in the summer for the families to just relax and play but our first carnival themed picnic went above and beyond all of those. It took a lot of work and a lot of effort and man hours from many people but it was so worth it to see all those kids having a great time with their families. It was also really exciting to be next to such a busy park and have the chance to share what we’re doing with the community.” — a volunteer
Summer Picnic News
“I don’t get to see my dad very much or talk to him. Sometimes I wonder if he loves me because if he did he wouldn’t have gone to jail, but he knew what I wanted for Christmas and remembered the size of my clothes and he didn’t forget about me even though he’s so far away. Now every time I wear my coat I think about that and it kind of makes me remember that he didn’t forget about me.” — 12 year old boy
“Angel Tree can be a bit overwhelming and emotional. The holidays are already emotional and stressful and you’re starting to feel spiteful and angry at the parent for being gone and leaving you with this whole mess. But then, you enter a room of people who know exactly what you’re going through. You exchange phone numbers and you make new friends and you listen to other people’s stories and through the tears, you’re laughing and hugging strangers you just met. It’s not like the kids are just getting generic gifts for their age group like you would if you went to receive Christmas help from another agency. It’s not like we NEED financial help for Christmas (although the first year we attended, we really did.) It’s just that my kids get to talk to a Santa that says he’s delivering gifts from their parent who is in jail and its exactly what they wanted, everyone is excited, and for a moment I don’t feel like I’m doing it all by myself all the time.” — a mother
Angel Tree is a program designed to bridge the gap between the incarcerated parent and their child by supplying gifts from the incarcerated parent to the child. It’s a spectacularly decorated huge Christmas party which includes a wonderful array of holiday food, crafts, specially chosen gifts, and photos which are taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus. The photos are included with personalized Christmas cards created by the children at the event and sent to the incarcerated parent and the caregiver.
Angel Tree, affiliated with Prison Fellowship, is an opportunity for our organization to help strengthen or build a lasting relationship between an incarcerated parent and their child. Each child is shopped for specifically and receives a needed clothing item and quality “fun” gift that the child has specifically asked for. Families on the Outside puts on an enormous Winter Wonderland themed party for children and their caregivers. The party includes a full dessert table and Santa and Mrs. Claus personally deliver the gifts to each child! For each table there is a host that assists the family with getting food and navigating the event. There are often other additions to the party, such as a choir from a local school singing carols, or a magician. Additionally, Families on the Outside has volunteers who take pictures of the families throughout the whole event. Later, copies of the pictures are sent to the inmate and to the caregiver. The event is open to all immediate members of the household, including other siblings.
9208 N.E. Hwy 99, Ste. 107 #50 • Vancouver, WA 98665 • (360) 904-7302