Book of Dreams: Party thrills children, educates families of incarcerated

Five grandchildren gather on the overstuffed sofa in Angela Murchison’s Del Paso Heights home, their knees knocking one another as they wiggle into comfortable spots.

Two other girls snuggle onto the loveseat in the living room as the group decides what movie to watch.

“Ooh, did you see ‘Elf’ ?”

“What about ‘Wreck It Ralph’? ”

“ ‘Wreck It Ralph! ‘Wreck It Ralph!’ ”

Murchison turns on the movie and pulls her grandson Aaron, 1, closer to her. After a few minutes, some of the children lose interest and begin playing. Her own children wander in and out of the house, taking care of various tasks that needed to be done that Sunday afternoon.

The flurry of activity and people is a welcome part of Murchison’s life, which has turned around in recent years. She graduated from Sacramento City College in May and has her cosmetology license. She beams as she shares that her son Isaiah Mathews, 18, is attending William Jessup University in Rocklin with the help of financial aid and scholarships.

“Our family had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, but thanks to the power of prayer, the curse has been broken,” Murchison said.

The family will be among dozens of others who will be at the annual Christmas party hosted by Friends-CARE, a nonprofit organization providing services, educational workshops, support and resources to the at-risk children and families of the incarcerated.

Book of Dreams has been asked to help purchase items such as skateboards, skates and scooters for children attending this year’s Christmas party.

“We care about those who don’t have a voice,” said Dorothy Montgomery, the organization’s executive director.

The party also is an opportunity to provide a little education for families. This year, the topic will be probation.

“People say, ‘Why would you have a workshop at a Christmas party?’ but out of the three-hour party, we have 45 minutes of information, and it’s helpful,” she said. “I believe in educating people, and they’re very appreciative.”

Montgomery aims to be a resource for families like Murchison’ – who have loved ones serving time – and works closely with law enforcement, inviting agency representatives to events as well.

“We do that to show the children that they’re not unwanted just because their parent or someone they love is in prison,” Montgomery said.

Murchison learned of the organization through her uncle, who is serving time in San Quentin.

Her grandchildren have received toys and shoes for the past few Christmases, thanks to the organization.

“I have been blessed in terms of financial stability, but we just make it,” she said. “The party is a big help.”

Needed: Gifts, including skateboards and scooters, for children attending the Friends-CARE Christmas party.

Total: $2,500.


Here’s a list of wishes published so far in the series:

Dream: Help for avid book reader Priscilla Wong, who was born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy.

Needed: An electronic page turner. Total: $350.

Dream: Mobile beds for the nonprofit Family Promise of Sacramento, which provides shelter for families and helps them overcome homelessness.

Needed: 14 rollaway beds and bedding. Total: $4,200.

Dream: Supplies for Wellness Within, a mind-body wellness center for cancer patients and their families.

Needed: Supplies for classes, food for nutrition classes, drums for meditative sessions, and art supplies. Total: $5,000.

Dream: Portable computers for Stephanie Spidell and her daughters, one of whom seeks a career in the medical field. One of Spidell’s daughters, 2-year-old Khya, was born with a brain malformation and died Nov. 22.

Needed: Three laptop computers. Total: $3,000.

Dream: Musical instruments for United Cerebral Palsy of Sacramento and Northern California’s Adult Day Program.

Needed: Set of instruments that can be played together in harmony. Total: $3,000

Dream: Household items for Volunteers of America’s Sacramento Senior Safe House, a six-bedroom emergency shelter for people 62 and older.

Needed: A dishwasher and other kitchen items. Total: $2,000.

Dream: Cold-weather apparel for HOPE Inc.’s “GLoven the Homeless” campaign.

Needed: 1,500 hats and gloves. Total: $4,000.

Dream: Supplies for Women’s Wisdom Art, a low-cost program for women overcoming homelessness and other obstacles.

Needed: A color laser printer-scanner, art and office supplies. Total: $5,000.

Dream: Specialized wheelchairs for pediatric units at Sutter Children’s Center, UC Davis Children’s Hospital and the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford.

Needed: Six race-car wheelchairs. Total: $5,000.