In the bustling world of the Louisiana Transitional Center for Women in Vicksburg, Mississippi, one correctional officer stood out. Her name was Roberta Bell, and her mission was simple: to help those who had found themselves sentenced behind the prison walls.
Little did she know that a fateful encounter would lead her down a path of selflessness that would cost her the job she loved but gain her something far more precious — a lifelong friend.
What One Prison Guard Did for an Inmate
The story begins with Katie Bourgeois, a 30-year-old inmate who found herself in a difficult situation. Serving time for “minor charges” related to drugs, she discovered she was pregnant. The catch? Her expected release date was about seven weeks after her due date. The fear of giving birth behind bars, where Child Protection Services might take her baby away, was overwhelming.
Katie’s past experiences were equally heartbreaking. The first time she gave birth, she entrusted her child to a friend who promised to keep them in her life, only to have that promise shattered. She was determined not to let history repeat itself with her new baby.
Roberta Bell, known for her boundless compassion, became Katie’s ray of hope. What started as a casual joke among staff soon became a heartfelt mission for Roberta. She knew it was the right thing to do.
When Roberta asked Katie if she would like her to take care of her baby after birth, relief washed over Katie’s face. With tears in her eyes, she said, “Miss Bell, I’d love for you to take my baby because I don’t have anyone else to do it.”
However, prison rules forbade staff and inmates from exchanging personal information. Determined to make this happen, Roberta reached out to her superiors weeks ahead of Katie’s due date, hoping for an exception. But the response came late, just days before the baby’s arrival.
“I’m going to get that baby,” she said.
So, Roberta stood her ground, telling her superior, “If the hospital calls me to come get this baby, I’m going to get him. He said, ‘Well, I’m gonna have to terminate you.’” But that didn’t stop her. Kayson was born on May 16, and Roberta was there to welcome him into the world.
Roberta’s heartwarming act didn’t come without sacrifice. She lost her job, but it became evident that it was a small price to pay when she saw the joy in Katie’s eyes as she held her baby. To Roberta, every act of kindness made a significant impact on the lives of these women who had experienced hardship and abuse. She knew that showing them love went a long way.
How One Woman Proved the Importance of Selflessness
After a few weeks of taking care of Kayson, Katie was finally released from prison. Both mother and child moved into Roberta’s home until Katie could secure a job, pursuing her dream of becoming a hairstylist.
Katie was left with a profound sense of gratitude. “How can I thank this woman?” she asked. “She’s a stranger who showed so much love. If not for this angel, I don’t know what I would have done. I feel like I’ve found a friend forever in Miss Bell.”
Roberta, now without a job herself, is pursuing her own lifelong dream — opening a recovery home for women coming out of prison. It’s a passion close to her heart, to provide them with a fresh start away from the environments that led them astray.
A GoFundMe page was set up to support Roberta’s dream, and already, over $42,000 of the desired $150,000 has been raised. Roberta’s act of kindness has touched countless hearts and inspired the community to rally behind her cause.
In Roberta’s words, “To see his little face and his smile – it was just a joy. And now, to watch Katie with him and see all of that love and the promise of a new beginning has made it all worthwhile.”
Roberta Bell’s journey reminds us that sometimes, the greatest rewards come from selfless acts of kindness, and that even in the darkest of places, the light of compassion can shine through, changing lives forever.
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