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Community College alumna empowers women with non-profit


By: Kayla Friedrich 

[SPOKANE, Wash.] When sharing your goals and aspirations, some people might laugh at you, others will choose to support you, and a few might completely shut you down.  

Gaye Hallman got a taste of each of these responses when she moved to Spokane to pursue her dream of using her poetry and experience in the justice system to encourage incarcerated women to never lose sight of their passions and talents.  

Spokane Community College and Spokane Falls Community College alumna Gaye Hallman knows the struggle of finding stability during the reintegration process after being incarcerated. She also understands how easy it is for a person to lose pieces of their identity in the process.  

Knowing the trials and tribulations of reentering society, Hallman sought to provide support for other women through her non-profit, A Woman’s Worth.  

Hallman moved to Spokane in 1997 following her release from a rehab facility in Georgia. While searching for employment opportunities in her new city, Hallman noticed a trend. Doors were repeatedly shutting on her because of her background.  

“I decided I could let this make me or break me and at that point I knew something had to change,” Hallman said. “I told myself ‘Gaye, do you want to stay where you are, or do you want to see a brighter future?’” 

Hallman set off on her journey to create A Woman’s Worth with the drive to support women through some of their most challenging times and a deep passion to help them rediscover the parts of their hearts that got lost during life's trials and incarceration. 

Shortly after arriving in Spokane, Hallman worked for her brother’s janitorial company and spent the remainder of her time volunteering at Spokane’s Eleanor Chase Center — a minimum security state Department of Corrections facility designed to prepare women to reenter society as they near the end of incarceration. 

Her desire to give back is derived from personal experience with a woman back in Georgia named Mrs. Clementine Slack who devoted herself to helping Hallman follow a brighter path following her release from a drug rehabilitation facility.     

“I was in a facility like Eleanor Chase and that’s what inspired me to do this,” Hallman said. “It’s something I wanted to do to give back and give these women something to look forward to and give them another chance to release their passions.”  

The path to bring this dream to fruition was not always clear, but Hallman seized every opportunity to prepare herself and her community for “A Woman’s Worth”.  

She attended Spokane Community College in 2004 to receive her AA in business but felt that there were still skills she needed to create the brand she has in mind. The creative side of her vision was still missing.  

Nearly 13 years later, she graduated from Spokane Falls Community College with her AA in graphic design, giving her the confidence to continue pursuing her vision of supporting women in Spokane.  

“I wanted to become better than I was and throughout this 27-year long journey, I kept telling people about my vision,” Hallman said. “I kept expressing how this would benefit others, and that’s why I began writing poetry.” 

Hallman said her education has allowed her to share her story and the stories of other women who’ve been incarcerated to create a community of hope for them and their families.  

The combination of her degrees allowed Hallman to write, design, publish and distribute her poems to spread her message of hope to her community.  

“The first book of poems I’d written was to comfort women while we were incarcerated,” Hallman said. “It was full of comforting solutions.” 

While she was volunteering at Eleanor Chase, Hallman started going to Jesus is the Answer City Church and that is where her vision began coming to life. 

She hosted “Open House” once a month for ten years, allowing women to come to her home to receive support and guidance as they navigated their reintegration journey.  

She also used her connection to local churches to give women a chance to rediscover and showcase their natural talents.  

“We went to a lot of different churches and whatever their abilities were, we’d display them. Whether it was playing instruments, singing, or writing we wanted them to showcase their abilities.” 

Hallman facilitated these events for 23 years when things finally came together in the ways she’d envisioned all along.  

Sitting in her living room in 2020, the words “A Woman’s Worth” came to her and like any writer, she rushed to the nearest pen and paper before the words could escape her. She revisited those three words and continued with a poem that is now gifted to every woman who works with Hallman’s non-profit.  

She is now contracted through the DOC and continues to work with women in Eleanor Chase and gives them resources to rediscover themselves. Each woman receives a welcome kit filled with the “A Woman’s Worth” poem, custom T-shirts, goal setting journals and a poetry book, all designed and written by Hallman.  

“Life can knock us down and we might want to give up but it’s everything that dream and vision is inside of you because of God,” Hallman said. “As long as you’re alive you have a right to pursue your dreams. Enjoy the journey and enjoy the process because that’s what it’s about. Believe in what you want and continue to pursue it.”  

A Woman’s Worth is hosting its second annual gala at Gonzaga University’s Hemmingson Ballroom on April 26 from 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. For more details call 509-385-7074.  


Posted On

2/22/2024 8:36:31 AM

Posted By

Kayla Friedrich



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