The governor’s mansion got a holiday makeover from women who live in another form of state housing: prison.
Eight inmates from the Washington Corrections Center for Women spent most of Monday hanging wreaths, decorating garland, and hanging lights around the executive residence on the state Capitol campus.
The women are all graduates of horticulture and floriculture programs offered within the prison.
“It’s just nice to know people will come and admire our work,” said LaKeisha Hamilton, who is serving a 14-year sentence for assault and drive-by shooting convictions.
She said she has a job waiting for her at a community garden when she’s released next year.
“I’ve learned the skills to change,” said Hamilton, who said she didn’t know anything about gardening until enrolling in the classes taught by Tacoma Community College faculty members.
Instructor Ed Tharp said he’s seen the program help several inmates find work after they’re released.
“If you’re not going to give them a skill… the same thing’s going to happen,” said Tharp.
Washington First Lady Trudi Inslee learned about the program during a tour of the prison and first invited the inmates to decorate her Olympia home five years ago.
In a written statement, Inslee said she’s proud to employ the women.
“It’s just one small way we can support the effort to help women enrolled in the horticulture program at WCCW learn career skills and successfully reenter society and be productive members of their communities,” said Inslee.
The supplies and labor cost an estimated $4,500.
That costs are covered by private donations to the Governor’s Mansion Foundation.