Lori Moseley is a certified Roots of Success instructor and member of the Roots of Success Advisory Board. She was incarcerated for 2.5 years at Coffee Creek Correctional Center, where she spent most of those years helping others. Her efforts during the recent (and ongoing) COVID-19 lockdown were heroic.
At the onset of the pandemic, Lori worked as a hazmat responder within the prison. During the months of September to November, she was the only responder qualified to decontaminate COVID hot zones. Hazmat responsibilities primarily addressed blood borne pathogens and hazardous waste, and also included chemical management for the medium housing section. During this time over 150 COVID positive areas were neutralized.
Lori also spent nearly every day during the lockdown teaching Roots of Success classes to her incarcerated peers. She says Roots of Success gave women purpose during the tight pandemic lockdown, which was and remains extremely stressful. Women were not able to have meaningful family visits, volunteer connections, religious services or basic education opportunities. The loss of physical freedom was compounded by a halting of all education and job training programming, with the exception of Roots of Success. Unlike other programming, Roots of Success classes have still been offered during lockdown, because they are taught by incarcerated instructors to their peers. Lori described the experience this way:
“Roots of Success classes offered the women a structured way to come together. When women entered the classroom, they were able to set aside their fears, anxieties, and the circumstances of their incarceration. It was a place beyond the uncertainty of COVID. We were able to focus on what they could attain rather than what was not currently possible. The women encouraged each other to grow their integrity and lead by example. Through participation in the Roots of Success classes the women found community, intellectual freedom, freedom of thought and ideas, and hope”.
Lori left prison on January 12, 2021, returning to her Lane County community in the Eugene, Oregon area. She described what she’s been doing in the last few months this way:
Since my exit I’ve been working on a civil/human rights case which focuses on photobiology. I’m preparing for litigation in the US District Court. I’m representing the voice of women who are and will be incarcerated. I’ve also been diligently attempting to gain a foothold in establishing a Roots of Success classroom for those paroling to Lane County. I’m juggling this with the passing of several family members and prioritizing support for my mother in this time of loss.