Vending MachineFirst, thank you for tuning in.

Second, I write how I speak. Which is usually in a direct manner, with passion and from experience. I do not write like an English major. There are many things you will have to forgive me for if you follow this blog over time. But I will always be real with you, even if I don’t get everything just right. Thank you.

Stephanie Regagnon
Founder
Ava’s Grace Scholarship Program
@StephRegagnon

Change from a Vending Machine:

A blog by Ava’s Grace Founder Stephanie Regagnon

POST 18: SPEECHLESS IN ST. LOUIS August 10th, 2018

It’s been almost a week since the Ava’s Grace Taking Flight event. And I am still struggling to find the words to describe the feeling and the energy of the weekend. Read more…

POST 17: FLIGHT TAKEN – August 3rd, 2018

Tomorrow 150 people, including 20 of our 40 scholars and their families, will join in a celebration for our scholars. This is our 7th Taking Flight ceremony and every one of them has been one of the most special days of my life. Read more…

POST 16: My BFFF (My Best Friend Forever is Forty) – July 20, 2018

Today is one of my best friend’s 40th birthday. I won’t name her name here. She certainly didn’t sign up to be in my justice reform blog. But many of you who read this know who she is – please tell her Happy 40th today. In the spring of 2007, my family was preparing to go to war. After 18 months of the government hunting and haunting us and creating a story that could later be dismantled (but only after finding evidence they had suppressed in trial and my mom was already sitting in prison) and then an eventual indictment – we were preparing for trial in May. Read more…

POST 15: REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEONE – July 13, 2018

I had an outstanding 41st this week. A week of productivity with our summer routine somewhat back on track, Ava’s first concert, an ag conference on a beautiful campus in St. Louis, and a lot of reminders of how many awesome friends, family and “communities” I have. [Note, the first sign of being 41 and not 21 and feeling like it was outstanding is the list of things I claim to have done that made it great!] Read more…

POST 14: TA-DA! – July 6, 2018

I took last week off from the blog. I was in Costa Rica on vacation and frankly I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to write a blog post. I avoided my laptop most of the week unless it was urgent. It was fabulous (the trip and not touching a laptop). I highly recommend both. Read more…

POST 13: TUG OF WAR – June 22, 2018

I struggled with this week’s blog. Most weeks I know what I want to say and I say it. But some days, and with increasing frequency, there are many forces churning in me that are hard to “square up”. Perhaps this is just life or maybe it’s a mid-life, but… Read more…

POST 12: WORK ANGELS PART 1 – June 15, 2018

When I started this blog I knew one of the issues would be that I just don’t remember everything that happened. Part of it I have literally blocked from my memory for my sanity’s sake. Most of it has been the passage of time. Some things will never be written here or anywhere as they are simply too painful or too personal for me and my family. We shall see what makes these pages. Read more…

POST 11: THE TALK – June 8, 2018

Last week was the week. I have been planning for and stressing out about this moment for many years and when it came it happened so fast I almost didn’t realize what was happening. Last week after an event that came up out of our control, I told my daughter about what happened to our family. To her Nonna. To us before she was born. I told her over lunch at her favorite spot, although that was only coincidence as I didn’t walk in there thinking we’d be having “the talk”.Read more…

POST 10: KNOCK ON WOOD – June 1, 2018

Summer is HERE. It was a long winter in the Midwest. I went through my annual questioning of why we (still) live here. Especially since we could live just about anywhere with our jobs these days. But we stay. Because it’s home. Being from Missouri is part of the fiber of my soul and while I love to think about a living in places like Austin, TX or Savannah, GA, there is a high likelihood I will always be centered somewhere in the heart of the Heartland. Read more…

POST 9: THE STRUGGLE IS REAL – May 25, 2018

If you are part of the criminal justice reform movement you are aware that throughout the past several weeks we have seen major division and outright acrimony within our tribe. If you are watching from the sidelines, I think you will still find this to be a worthwhile read.

Over the past few weeks, it has been painful to watch leaders and boots on the ground alike publicly eviscerating each other over philosophical differences in how we go about “change” and what exactly is progress in this work. And when I say work, I need to clarify that I do this on the side. There are many people and organizations who wake up and live this work every second of every day. They are to be recognized as this work is hard, it can be traumatic, and it breaks your heart every single day. Read more…

POST 8: ABUSE OF POWER – May 18, 2018

11 years ago this week we were in the middle of my mom’s two-week trial in St. Louis. The federal building downtown is a beautiful structure in the heart of the city skyline I have called home for close to 15 years. For many years my stomach churned when I came into downtown and saw that building. I am thankfully past that now. Read more…

POST 7: SAY WHAT? – May 11, 2018

Sitting in a prison visiting room in the fall of 2008, my mom grabbed my hands and told me through tears that she wanted me to get pregnant. She had been gone for about a year at that point. I looked at her like she was crazy. Why would I do that? Why now? She had three more years if nothing changed with her legal case. But she would eventually come home – and then I could have a baby. Read more…

POST 6: FORE-TY – May 3, 2018

One week from today friends and family from across the country (literally) will be descending upon St. Louis to play in our annual golf tournament, the 8th annual Ava’s Grace Scholarship Scramble. When we first started the foundation in March 2010 (inexperienced and mostly clueless and we were) one of the first things we did to raise money was launch this annual tournament. It seemed fitting – my mom used to host an annual golf tournament for the United Way when we still owned the bar and, frankly, a lot of our friends like to golf or day drink or both. Our friend Jake took the lead, found the golf course and off we went. Read more…

POST 5: BUNDLED UP, READY TO GO! – April 27, 2018

Some weeks this blog will be snippets or stories of the past that attempt to paint a picture of what actually happened during our decade with the system, how it impacted my family and how those events sparked my desire to engage in justice reform work.Some weeks, like this one, it will be current events and the “gut checks” that occur in my day-to-day life in this work. Read more…

POST 4: WEDDING BELLS – April 19, 2018

A month after I lied to that woman was my best friend’s wedding. I played the role of reverend (!) and it was a beautiful celebration. But it was another major life event my mom was missing – the wedding of a woman who was like a second daughter to her. Read more…

POST 3: BACKDROP – April 13, 2018

My new normal started in the fall of 2007. That visit when I broke down in front of God and mom and prison guards alike, was the first of my many visits over four years and three federal prisons in three different states. It started my “official” journey with the U.S. justice system. The government had been hunting and tormenting and lying about my family for close to three years at that point, including during a two-week trial in a beautiful building in downtown St. Louis. But it never registered that the slow-moving train wreck I had been watching was actually the nightmare of my real life. Our life. My mom, my dad, my new husband and all the people who cared about us. Read more…

POST 2: THE CRACKS ARE WHERE THE GOOD STUFF IS – April 5, 2018

I can still hear the coins dropping. Drink machines and snack machines – several of each lined the wall. I can still see the kids – young, likely all under 10 – and their faces, happy to pick out the sugary and salty snacks without having to search because they knew exactly what they wanted. I can still hear their feet bum-rushing the machines. And at first, I didn’t understand what was happening. Read more…

POST 1: MAKING CHANGE – March 29, 2018

This blog is about my and my family’s traverse through the justice system.
If you read this and decide to follow me on this “channel”, I am sure I will say things and tell stories that make you uncomfortable. And that is OK. My family has been uncomfortable enough for all of us as it relates to the real-life experience of “justice” in our country and it is my sincere hope you never have reason to know the inner workings of our system like I do. Read more…

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