It’s often difficult for me to find the words to explain what You Yes You! Project means to me. It’s hard because YYY isn’t about me but it’s all about me.
It all began in January 2014 as a challenge to myself and a promise to God. I had spent all 33 years of my life navigating through brokenness and failed attempts at accomplishing goals. I was a wife and a mother of two but outside of those roles, who was Ericka? I set a goal for myself to do something that year and I asked God to help. I told God whatever he told me to do, I would trust Him, follow His lead, and only listen to His words. Months later a friend sent me an article on Angela Patton. She runs Camp Diva, a Richmond, Virginia nonprofit aimed at empowering young girls. Patton had organized a father-daughter dance inside a Virginia prison and I thought the idea was brilliant. I went to bed that night but was unable to sleep thinking about that dance. The next morning, I reached out to a cop and asked if he thought a father daughter dance inside a prison could happen in Indiana. He said, “Possibly,” and connected me to the Indiana Department of Correction. A week later I met with officials at the now-closed Indiana Re-Entry Educational Facility. Three months later, I had organized the first father-daughter dance inside a prison facility in Indiana. It was the first time in my life I set a goal for myself and accomplished it.
Now here I am, six years later still accomplishing goals. It’s addicting. YYY began because although a father-daughter dance is great for connecting parental relationships, incarcerated fathers need so much more to be better dads; better men. They need the rehabilitation prison is supposed to provide.