Collaboration of KiraKira & Alysia Reiner of Orange is The New Black to Benefit Women’s Prison Association
I’ve known Alysia Reiner through promoting the show “Orange is The New Black” (OITNB). I experienced her generosity first hand when she found out that I wrote a children’s book through Adrienne C. Moore ( “Black Cindy” from OITNB ). Alysia purchased it online and we have been communicating through Twitter and e-mail ever since.
I was thrilled when she invited me to the “Collaboration of KiraKira & Alysia Reiner of Orange is the New Black to Benefit Women’s Prison Association” event she organized. It was an inviting and elegant event and even more special because I finally got to meet Alysia in person after all the months of tweets and online messages. Guests of the event could purchase jewelry and also purchase an autographed copy of Orange is The New Black book by Piper Kerman! 100 percent of the profits from the event and future sales of the locket co- designed by Alysia and Kira Kira go straight to WPA! My husband and myself went to check out the jewelry on display and everything looked beautiful.
OITNB cast members ; Laura Gomez, Jackie Cruz, Jessica Pimentel, Catherine Curtin, Dascha Polanco, Diane Guerrero, and Selenis Levya gathered at the event to show their support as well.
I had the chance to have a quick interview with the host, Alysia Reiner.
KR: How did you come up with this project of co-designing a locket and even hosting an event for WPA?
AR: You know, when you play a bitch on TV, I feel comically I have to do something to make the world a better place in the present. So, I had the idea — thanks to Piper [Kerman,] I found out about WPA — I really wanted to serve them both in a piece of jewelry because that way jewelry can be so about storytelling. People can wear it and tell people what the WPA is. Even on the pieces of jewelry it says, ” Empower, Strength, and Connect,” which is the mission statement.
KR: That’s so great! I like it!
AR: Yeah! I wanted to raise money for WPA. What WPA does really helps people to get a second chance. It really helps the families of women in prison decrease recidivism, which is huge, you know?
KR: How long is the sale for this locket? Can those who aren’t here make purchases?
AR: It’s on going till the end of 2014! Birthdays, Valentines Day, Mother’s Day. It will be on sale the whole year.
KR: Get it for your wife, your mom and the list goes on!
KR: This is wonderful! Do you think you wanted to co-design a new piece of jewelry again and maybe host another event for WPA?
AR: I hope so! I would love to! Yes, I would do it again!
KR: How did you meet the jewelry designer [KiraKira]?
AR: I met her at another charity event, “Dress for Success,” where we did a collaboration.
KR: This event is huge! A lot of people are here tonight. Everyone raved about you! Congratulations Alysia! I’ll let you say hello to your guests, thank you for inviting me!
AR: Thank you Anne. Enjoy your night!
Not too far from where I interviewed Alysia, Piper Kerman was signing copies her book for guests, so I joined them. I wanted to learn more about the WPA program and how others like myself can get involved. Kerman was very kind and thrilled to point me in the right direction.
KR: What a pleasure meeting you tonight, Piper! This event is huge!
PK: This is ALL her! It’s all Alysia! She started to talk to me about the event months ago and I was like okay, that sounds good, Alysia. And look at this event! She’s dynamo!
KR: How long have you been working with WPA?
PK: I have been working with the WPA since right after I came out of prison in 2005. I had two years of probation, so I think I started volunteering in 2007. I started volunteering with their women’s care program, which is the the mentoring program where you work to mentor women who are first coming home from jail. I volunteered for several years, then they asked if I wanted to be in the board and I was thrilled to be asked.
KR: How did you find out about this event?
PK: This event was really the incredible creation of Alysia Reiner and Kira Kira. Alysia and the jeweler, Suz, knew each other. Suz was just so inspired after learning about the issues, the women, and the kids that we work with. Alysia is the powerhouse behind this event!
Kr: So for people just learning about the program, what can they do to help?
PK: For starters, people can always come and do a volunteer day. We operate family housing here in New York, where moms and kids live together after the mothers get out of prison. This helps the women get into a stable living situation, and then we eventually help them and their kids to transition into a permanent housing situation. So we do volunteer days to help with those folks who are going through those issues with the mentoring program. You know, if someone wants to make a great commitment with the mentoring program, that’s a great thing. We do a wonderful gala once a year, a back to school back pack drive for the kids. You know we serve nearly 500 kids in the New York area alone who all happen to have a mom who’s incarcerated. There are so many opportunities where people can lend a hand.
KR: Thank you Piper, so great to meet you.
PK: So glad you’re here!
For more information about WPA : http://www.wpaonline.org
Purchase the locket designed by Kira Kira & Alysia Reiner here