All in a Day’s Work: Public Speaking Coach for Felons

by Trina Sargalski

Chris Wolfe, President of the Voices of Time Gavel Club, opens the meeting. Carey McKearnan records. /Trina Sargalski

In our regular segment called “All in a Day’s Work,” we look at how people in South Florida make a living.

There are Gavel Clubs and Toastmasters groups around the world.  Most of them teach public speaking to business people.  Chris Wolfe is a public speaking coach who volunteers at a Gavel Club inside a federal prison, Everglades Correctional Institution, on the western edge of Miami-Dade County.  He helps men who have been in prison for decades prepare for life on the outside.

Special thanks to Carey McKearnan for her help producing this piece.

Created with flickr slideshow.

The Voices of Time Gavel Club composed the song, “Men Going Home.”  Hear the full song below.  Special thanks to the UM documentary students who recorded it.


Toastmasters International: Inmates find their voices at public speaking club (Miami Herald)

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8 Responses to “All in a Day’s Work: Public Speaking Coach for Felons”

  1. Brenda Brown says:

    I think it’s a wonderful thing that Chris is doing. Everyone needs hope and understanding. People who have fewer errors in life need less help. It’s the people who have made mistakes that really need the help and the knowledge that you do have a second chance to do good in this world. May God bless Chris and everyone who helps others and gives them hope. If only one person comes out a better person, that’s all it takes. It’s a snowball effect! We may never know all of the good that comes out of helping others but just knowing that people care helps not only the person getting helped but also anyone that person goes on to help and so on and so on. It also gives a nice warm feeling to the person who originally gave of themselves to help others.

  2. Alexandre Moreira says:

    Truly outstanding work. I am very glad to see inmates at Everglades benefiting from Chris Wolfe’s leadership and public speaking skills. It is an invaluable contribution to the rebuilding of a person’s life.

  3. Thank you to Chris Wolfe for the opportunity to meet these men up close and personal at the Gavel Club. Hearing their stories and witnessing first hand how the Toastmasters regimen enriches their lives and teaches them confidence and a sense of self worth moved me powerfully. Chris, the respect these men hold for you and your colleagues in this program was palpable. I encourage our listeners and readers to spend some time with this story…these are the undertold stories we hope will spark debate and introduce you to voices you’d otherwise not have the opportunity to hear. Please post your comments…your feedback is invaluable to us at Under the Sun.

  4. David Price says:

    Really admirable public service. We truly need more worthwhile programs like this at our prisons and detention centers.

    I would think a gavel club at a juvenile detention center would be a very productive program to help keep kids from graduating to prison.

  5. Harry Blyden says:

    Excellent presentation of a truly inspirational story. The Gavel Club appears to be a remarkable platform for creating meaningful change in the lives of these men, building their self esteem and proving hope for a better life. Chris is to be applauded for his public speaking and leadership skills as well as for the time and effort devoted to this worthy project.

  6. Marta Perez says:

    Great program. Chris deserves a lot of praise for his work with the men. They truly look up to him.

    The piece aired on “Under the Sun” was excellent. I enjoyed listening to the entire program.

    Congratulations to Chris, Dan, Alicia, Wanda, Trina, Carey, Dr.Shearn and the Voices of Time Gavel Club members. Their work is inspiring.

  7. Mike Morejon says:

    Great work! Changing people’s lives when they need it the most is so valuable to ALL of us. Chris is giving these men strength and self respect, a chance to give themselves what they truly need in a very meaningful way.

  8. Cesar Perez says:

    I would expect no less from an excellent person and speaker. All we can hope for during our brief stay in this world, is to help leave it a little better off than we found it. Good job!

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