Women inmates find peace in flower petals

Charmaine Heanu
Charmaine Heanu
Mary Jo Garre
Mary Jo Garre

By Roger Mari - bio | email

KANEOHE (KHNL) - Behind the walls of the Women's Community Correctional Center, inmates get a chance to nurture their spirit through plants and flowers.

There are 199 Garden Clubs across the nation, all part of the Garden Club of America. Since 2001 the Garden Club of Honolulu has been teaching inmate's horticulture and flower arrangement. The project earned the club 25-thousand dollars in 2004.

"It is hard, it's like being chosen Miss America," said Mary Jo Garre, Garden Club of America President.

Through the project, inmates are able to leave their troubles behind, if only momentarily, and focus on something positive within the prison walls.

"I always wanted to do flower arrangements but I did drugs and stuff like that now the opportunity is here and I took full advantage of it," said Inmate Charmaine Heanu.

"The enjoyment of working with flowers, there's nothing better I think, it gives you peace," said Mary Jo Garre.

For Charmaine Henau the classes help pass the time quickly as she thinks about the outside world and the people she cares for the most.

"My mom, my mom, I love my mom, I miss my mom. I have ten years and I did six already," said Charmaine Heanu.

The project is called "Planting for a Better Future." Charmaine Heanau hopes that when she gets out, she can work with her family in the flower business.

"Hawaiians love to have luaus so I'll be the one making those arrangements and not say my sister did it, I did it."

It's a partnership between two groups, with one teaching the other about not just arranging flowers, but letting them know that there's still time for their lives to flourish.

The Garden Club of Honolulu visits the inmates about twice a month. They will return to the women's prison next week to help the inmates cultivate their Lo'i Garden.