Pure Heart: Sherelle Hogan’s life mission is to save children with incarcerated parents

Michigan

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Sherelle Hogan

Pure Heart Foundation founder Sherelle Hogan.

Currently, there are 200,000 children in Michigan who has at least one parent incarcerated. Sherelle Hogan had both of her parents in prison from the time she was 6-14 years old. That was the inspiration that lead the woman of God and inspirational speaker to write her new book titled ‘The Prisoner’s Kid: My Journey to Freedom.’

The autobiography tells Hogan’s story in book form. How she grew up with both of her parents in prison, the undeserving traumatic experiences she had to deal with, such as being raped, beat, molested, and contemplating suicide. The book also details her healing journey and ways she overcame the stigma and statistics. It’s deep but needed. Sad, funny and upsetting all at the same time. Hogan, who attends Immanuel House of Prayer where Thomas L. Johnson is the pastor, gives God all the credit for saving her life from destruction.

“A lot of people in our society now, especially our black, brown, and Hispanic boys, have parents that are in prison,” said Hogan. “The psychological devastation that comes behind it, I don’t think a lot of people know what these children face: the stressors, the feeling of rejection, and abandonment. So much trauma comes from that and I was someone who beat that stigma.”

“Based on studies and statistics, I was supposed to be in poverty, uneducated, not married, and the list goes on. But I have managed to navigate through those things and I wanted to create a platform so that people could know about the things that we deal with. God told me to tell my story in book form and that’s where it really came from.”

Coming from a broken home on Detroit’s east side, Hogan could have easily succumbed to being a product of her environment or a victim of her circumstances. Instead, she graduated from the Detroit School of Arts in 2008 and the University of Michigan-Dearborn in 2013 with a degree in psychology with a focus in child development. She did not let the shortcomings of her parents become her story as well.

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Hogan, 27, said her father went to jail a lot for petty crimes but never anything serious. Her mother was the one who did the serious time in prison, for reasons she chose not to disclose for her mother’s protection. Hogan’s mother currently resides in Atlanta. Her father was released from prison in 2000 but was unfortunately killed two months later. She watched him die on television during a police chase and car crash. He was an innocent bystander. The actions of her parents and the events that resulted from them being absent mentally confused her she was younger.

“I remember when I was little girl and my parents were in prison,” Hogan said. “A part of me felt like I couldn’t really be happy with other people raising me because I felt a sense of loyalty to my parents, so I didn’t want to try to live life like it was normal. I always felt like an outcast because I didn’t know any other kids who had parents that were in prison, so I felt alone. But me building a relationship with God has helped me get to the place where I am now.”

When Hogan was going through her traumatic experiences of having both parents in prison at the same time growing up, she could have benefited from a program that helped her cope with her problems and everyday life. So, she quit her supervisor job at Chrysler in 2015 and founded a community-based non-profit called Pure Heart Foundation that offers therapeutic, emotional learning, and embracing experiences for children of incarcerated parents. Through Pure Heart Foundation, Hogan offers her 4,000 students counseling, tutoring, mental wellness sessions, after school programs, scholarships, Christmas giveaways, trips to the Pistons game, and more, helping to fill the gap of absent parents and to make sure the they do not end up in the prison system too.

“I knew that I had a greater purpose and I always prayed and asked God what my purpose was,” said Hogan. “I knew I wanted to help kids, so I started Pure Heart to only help kids of incarcerated parents. In three years, it has been a great support system for these kids. I love to see them huddle up and have a 15-minute conversation with their parents or write their parents in jail. I love to see them battle their problems together.”

“I have taken on the responsibility of saving these kids because I made it out. There are all of these systems created to fail these kids and I am here to save them. God sent me as a vessel to pour into the kids.”

Pure Heart Foundation currently operates on Detroit’s east side on Gratiot and McNichols but plans to open a school and community center in the near future to implement emotional learning back into the school system.

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