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Growing up with an incarcerated parent

Che'Paris and Juaquin Mobley.png
Posted at 10:46 AM, Mar 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-25 12:46:44-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — From the time she was six until she was 13, Che'Paris Mobley had an experience millions of Americans face: having a parent incarcerated in jail or prison.

"I just remember my grandma telling me "oh we're going to go visit your dad," Mobley said, "He was on this little TV and I had to pick up an old phone and talk to him through it and I was like, this is weird."

Her father, Juaquin Mobley, now runs an organization helping formerly incarcerated people like himself start their own businesses and get into jobs. The organization Community Works, does this in hopes of reducing the recidivism rate, or the number of people returning to incarceration.

For Juaquin, parenting while in prison posed costs and challenges as he worked on himself.

"When you get those letters, those pictures they're definitely soothing in a sense, but they're definitely debilitating that you're not there," Mobley said.

Now 21 years old and a psychology student at UCCS, Che'Paris spends time each year making sure girls going through similar experiences have something to put a smile on their faces.

It's through a platform she created called "Dollz 4 Dollz" she collects toy dolls to give to girls whose parents are incarcerated.

For Che'Paris, playing with dolls was something that gave her comfort and joy while her dad was in prison.

"I thought how I can I share this feeling, this good feeling with other kids," Mobley said.

Her grandmother, Leslie Mobley-Wilson helped her get the idea up and running years ago.

"That's kind of how she got through it some, she talked to her dolls a lot, she had lots of dolls," Mobley-Wilson said.

During her father's time in prison, Che'Paris lived in Michigan with family. Her grandmother, in Colorado Springs would see her over holidays and in the summertime and said she worked hard to make sure Juaquin's children knew they were being taken care of.

"We were the father's side of the family so we still tried to do his part," Mobley-Wilson said.

As a family, Mobley-Wilson said the process is difficult having a loved one behind bars, but seeing where Juaquin is now and the work Che'Paris is doing to give back is something that brings a smile to her face.

"I don't even think words could explain how proud I am because of how he turned it around, he could've been anywhere else but I'm glad that he turned it around," Mobley-Wilson said.

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