Fran Bolin, ’98, knows that when women and men are incarcerated, they are not the only ones who suffer. She has been helping families with loved ones in prison – who are sometimes facing life sentences – stay connected by offering moral support, transportation, and other services.
Because of her hard work as executive director of the nonprofit organization Assisting Families with Inmates, Bolin was honored with a “40 Under 40 Award” by Style Weekly magazine in Richmond, Va., in October 2015.
“I am so thankful for the award and the exposure it has brought to the organization and issues that absolutely deserve to have attention,” Bolin said.
Bolin has been with the organization since 2001. “It’s expanded into three part-time workers, three students working on their masters’ degrees in social work at Virginia Commonwealth University, and more than 100 volunteers,” she said.
A big part of her group’s tasks is to help family members of inmates visit and communicate through live video conversations over the internet.
“I feel fortunate to be able to do this job as each day is interesting and no one day is ever the same,” Bolin said. “I fully believe in the mission of the organization and am so thankful to be a part of a place that truly helps families impacted by the incarceration of a loved one.”
Bolin grew up in Midlothian, Va., and graduated from Meredith College in 1998. She later earned her graduate degree in social work at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is active in her community and serves on the Board of Directors for Huguenot Little League as a fundraising and special events volunteer. She also has three children, and her husband, John Absher, serves as a firefighter and part-time deputy sheriff.
She said her time at Meredith helped shape the path she’s chosen.
“Meredith was a place where I experienced what it means to be a caring, accepting, responsible, productive part of my community,” Bolin said. “And a big part of that is about giving back.”