A weekend of golf, wine-tasting, and dinner Oct. 6-7 will raise money for Empowering Women Out of Prison, a nonprofit that offers business classes to women incarcerated in the state of Texas.
The golf tournament begins at noon on Oct. 6 at Legends Golf Course, 105 Rangeway Circle in Kingsland. The shotgun-scramble tournament is open to all golfers, regardless of skill level. Organizers will host a raffle for luxurious prizes, including cruises and destination vacations. Golfers can register online.
At noon Oct. 7, guests will tour Torr Na Lochs Vineyard and Winery, 7055 Texas 29 in Burnet, and Perissos Vineyards, 7214 Park Road 4 in Burnet. Lunch is provided. At 6 p.m., the nonprofit will host a dinner and live auction back at Legends Golf Course, which is near Lake LBJ. Tickets can be purchased online.
“We’d love to have more golfers from this area and more people who are of the same heart and mind as we are trying to transform these women’s lives so that they are contributing citizens in our communities,” EWOP board chairperson Karen El-Tawil said in a recent interview with KBEY 103.9 FM morning show host Mac McClennahan.
Only about 90 inmates out of more than 600 applicants statewide are accepted into the Empowering Women Out of Prison program each year. Entrepreneurship courses teach students how to begin their own careers.
“If they want to, they can get out and actually start their own jobs,” El-Tawil said. “If they want to work, that’s fine. We’re making them a better employee by understanding what it takes to run a business.”
Empowering Women Out of Prison’s mission extends outside prison walls.
“When these women are released, they’re a felon. It’s very difficult to get a job,” El-Tawil said. “We have an inside-outside program, so that once the girls are released, we follow them. We help them with finding work, getting all the documentation they need, driver’s licenses, housing in some cases.”
El-Tawil got her start volunteering with a similar nonprofit designed to uplift male inmates in prisons in the Houston area.
“There wasn’t anything for women,” she said.
That soon changed, and she shifted to working with EWOP, which formed as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2019.
“Our first classes actually started in March of 2020, which was, of course, crazy,” she said, referring to when lockdowns began due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The first class took us quite awhile to get through because there were so many times we weren’t available to go into the prison.”
The need for the program is unfortunately growing. The number of women in U.S. prisons since 1980 has increased by over 700 percent, according to information at ewoptx.org. That’s higher than the overall growth rate of the prison population, which has increased 500 percent during the same time.
“Currently, 89 out of 100 EWOP participants are mothers,” reads the website.