Sherelle Hogan knows firsthand the psychological impact of having an incarcerated parent. She spent much of her youth with both parents behind bars. As a result, her childhood was marred by feeling confused, scared, lonely and unworthy of love. Despite the early onset of trauma, she rose above the odds. Hogan has since dedicated her life to being a fierce advocate for children of incarcerated parents and established a non-profit foundation to help further her cause.
Hogan founded Pure Heart Foundation to respond to the overall needs of children with incarcerated parents.
Rolling out sat down with Hogan to learn more about her desire to give back via Pure Heart Foundation.
What is Pure Heart Foundation and what is its mission?
Pure Heart is a nonprofit based in Michigan. Our mission is to embrace children of incarcerated parents and to empower them to break the generational cycle in the criminal justice system.
How has your experience with parental incarceration shaped how you lead Pure Heart?
I would say my experiences have forced me to be more intentional, transparent and be a fighter. I cannot look at the kid I once was and hold back. Transparency saved my life. I learned at an early age that a lot of disappointments are fueled by lack of intention. I’m not a victim anymore, so I fight so they can have what I didn’t.
What type of support do you provide to children of incarcerated parents?
We use an integrated approach to youth development. We provide mental health support, academic enrichment, family reunification, workforce development and recreation and arts.
How can others support the work of Pure Heart Foundation?
We are always accepting donations. However, volunteering is a way to support and create spaces to discuss mass incarceration. Also, being more kind to our young people is a huge support. We walk past youth everyday and make assumptions about their attitudes and home training when they’re having a bad day. However, the reality is, four out of ten children in Michigan have a parent that’s incarcerated.
What are some leadership lessons that you would like to share with our readers?
It’s okay to know your niche and not be the answer to all the questions. A lot of time in the community world, there’s a need for everything. We can’t run after a need every day. Ultimately, if you try to help everyone, you’re going to end up not helping anyone.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Pure Heart just secured our first location. We are now the first agency in Michigan to open a space that is geared specifically toward children of incarcerated parents.
Since this interview was conducted, unfortunately thieves broke into the Pure Heart Foundation’s resource center exactly one day before their open house and completely vandalized it. They are in need of donations in any form. To find out how you can help, please visit pureheartcares.org.