(WXYZ) — Tuesday is International Women's Day, and this year's theme is breaking the bias. One metro Detroit woman started a non-profit that does just that for children whose parents are behind bars.
Sherelle Hogan's passion for her work came from personal experience. She had two parents go to prison when she was a kid. She said it felt like she was set up to fail. That's what helped lead to the Pure Heart Foundation.
That's the case for many children with incarcerated parents. Jones is making sure they never feel forgotten.
There are 228,000 kids in Michigan who have parents in jail or prison. Kayla Collier's dad started his 10-year sentence on her 13th birthday.
"I know my dad loves me, but if he didn't put himself in that situation in the first place, I wouldn't be going through everything I'm going through right now," Kayla Collier said.
Jheremi Moore said when his parents went to prison, he wanted to give up.
"I didn't want to be here because my mom was in jail and my dad too, it was kind of rough," Moore said.
Children often enter the Pure Heart Foundation with broken spirits. Hogan understands why.
"I was faced with so many barriers. Abuse, feeling alone, not really being able to identify with any of my peers in school," Hogan said.
She is a boss woman in her own right. She got her degree and worked in corporate America for years, until her childhood trauma caught up to her.
"Deep down, that girl still needed attention. She still needed healing and I knew everything that I had gone through was for a bigger purpose," Hogan said.
That's how the Pure Heart Foundation was born.
Hogan calls it a wrap-around approach that addresses mental health needs, academics, and even helps reunite children with their parents once their sentence is over.
Pure Heart has touched the lives of 2,500 kids and counting, some who may have ended up behind bars themselves without intervention.
"We have so many stories where young people literally say without Pure Heart, I don't have anyone, and knowing that is a huge responsibility to make sure as a leader I am furthering this mission," Hogan said.
She's currently working on opening a new center at Marygrove College where her scholars can learn, play, and even meditate.
The little girl Hogan once was just needed love and attention. Now, she gets to make up for that by giving it to others.
The Pure Heart Foundation center was vandalized in 2020, right before its grand opening.
Now, it's in a new location and Hogan is holding an official ribbon-cutting on March 25.