My name is Christina Ruest (Hall). I currently live in Springfield & I work at Friends of the Homeless. I have been involved with Voices from Inside in many different ways for many years. I currently attend the writing group at AISS and I am on the Board of Directors.
I first became involved with VFI when I was incarcerated. The year is a little fuzzy but I believe it was 2003. I heard that there was a creative writing group that I could sign up for and writing had always been something that I loved to do. I also had a lot of time on my hands and absolutely nothing else to do.
My favorite part of being involved with VFI is watching one of the women share their poetry in the community for the first time. I love the support that the ladies give one another. The honesty and openness that each of the women have when sharing their voice is inspiring.
When I first found VFI I was in a very low place in my life and I know that I would not be where I am now if it wasn't for this program. I had zero self-confidence and zero self-worth. It took me weeks to even be able to read in front of the group. I always believed that no one would ever want to hear what I have to say. All of the women that I have met on my journey with VFI have helped me to believe in myself.
Over time, I began to believe in myself and have confidence. Without that, I would have never been able to go back to school and earn my Bachelor's degree. Without VFI, I would have never been able to stand up in front of people, speak up, and share my voice
VFI IN THE News
VFI's Tara McNamara organized the "Breaking Free" poetry reading in Greenfield--read about it in this Greenfield Recorder story.
An excerpt from Voices Carry's performance at Forbes Library is available for viewing on Youtube, here.
VFI writer Daisy Diaz read a poem to open Hampshire Art Museum's exhibition "Made in America: Unfree Labor in an Age of Mass Incarceration." The exhibit runs through March 10. Check out photos in the February 7 post, to the left.
VFI writer Tara McNamara's poem "Dear Ex-Husband" is featured in the October 29, 2016, issue of the Write Angles Journal. See the poem on our Writing& Prompts page.
WWLP's Ashley Kohl interviews VFI board members about upcoming fundraisers for VFI, April 27, 2016.
From the Heart: VFI Poets interviewed in the Greenfield Recorder, February 12, 2016
Hampshire Gazette Reports on VFI Performance at Lander-Grinspoon Academy, February 7, 2016
Interview with VFI Poets on the Bill Newman Show, February 3, 2016
Loud and Clear: VFI at Holyoke Community College, November 18, 2015
Women Share Stories While in Jail, June 18, 2015