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See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil

I never grew up knowing someone who served time in jail or prison. I only knew of my healthy family, which gave me endless support to follow my dreams. I lived in Lincoln, Nebraska, in a safe neighborhood where children could ride their bikes past dark and not have to worry.

Now, I know multiple women who have been incarcerated. I know women who lost their children and had to cut out all family and friends from their new, sober life. I know women who have curfews at halfway houses. And most importantly, I feel lucky to know these brave women.

I’m a millennial and recently interned at Women’s Bean Project for the summer before I went back to finish my bachelors degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I’ve struggled with school in college yet some of the women we hire don’t even have GEDs.

CEO Tamra Ryan wrote “The Third Law” to share what she learned about the struggles of the women who work at Women’s Bean Project face. She wrote the book for people like herself who never had the opportunity to see the things she has witnessed, people like me. Tamra’s book has enforced the fact that just because you haven’t grown up the way some people have doesn’t mean you should be ignorant.

“The Third Law” taught me that some staff members at halfway houses can push you to react in a negative way to get in trouble. It also taught me that a life of poverty and drugs is rarely chosen and most likely thrust upon someone at an early age. And, someone can be an entirely different person sober versus high. The participants at Women’s Bean Project are not who their list of charges and felonies say they are. They are brave, exceptional women trying to change their lives.

Tamra’s book succeeded at showing me what I couldn’t have known otherwise. It taught me to see the women we hire with even more compassion than before and to recognize the bravery in each one who’s trying to change her life. I know millennials can be considered selfish as well as have a sense that we deserve everything. I want to break that stereotype and prove that we can change the world one woman at a time for the better – and that’s exactly what Women’s Bean Project does.

For millennials like me who are just finishing school and starting in the work force, figure out what your skills are and what you’ve studied and find a way to apply those skills to make an impact for an organization that you’re passionate about. Just because you’re young and short on change doesn’t mean you can’t be part of something great or make an impact.

I grew up in a similar environment like Tamra and had an upbringing I’m grateful for, but it can close your eyes to what’s different. After briefly meeting the last group of women at the end of their program and having the chance to meet the brand new 2015 participants, I’m convinced that Women’s Bean Project hires some very passionate and powerful women who truly want a second chance at changing their lives.

After reading “The Third Law,” I know that Women’s Bean Project is going to help change the lives of many women, their families and the community. The women have already started changing lives: they’ve helped to change mine.

If you’re interested in what Women’s Bean Project accomplishes and the stories of the many women who come in and out of these doors, please check out Tamra’s book or stop by the Bean Project to see these amazing women.

~Nicole Rauner, WBP Intern, Millennial & University of Nebraska – Lincoln student

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