Madge Woods

POPS Clubs Advocate/Sponsor

It started with Amy [Friedman, POPS Club Founder] and I in her kitchen, making sandwiches together to take to the first POPS Club in Venice, CA. As the clubs grew and launched in more locations, we made partnerships with local restaurants and delis, and for years I delivered and served different kinds of food to youth at the clubs. I was known for asking POPS members to try one piece of anything they hadn’t tasted before or thought they didn’t like – it was really important to me that we weren’t just expanding our minds in the clubs, but also our taste for different types of food as well. Eventually, the publishing aspect of the POPS Clubs became my passion – it was always our dream to give these young people a place where they could combat the shame and stigma of incarceration and share their incredible creativity. It’s hard to overstate how powerful it is to be able to offer POPS youth the opportunity to become published authors, and to see the look in their eyes as they hold the final book in their hands. I can’t wait to see our next anthology, Advice for 9th Graders, published next year. It features pieces from every single POPS Club and PATHfinder Club across the country, and represents this incredible journey that we have been on to become part of The Pathfinder Network.

As soon as we connected with Leticia [Longoria-Navarro, Executive Director of The Pathfinder Network], I knew that POPS would be a perfect fit for TPN. We had always been so grassroots, so to find this organization full of people doing what we were and even more opened my eyes to how efforts like this can operate on a larger scale. I am so glad that POPS has joined TPN to become part of this network of services, and have such faith in the TPN staff members who manage POPS and The PATHfinder Club. Recently, I invited LA-area POPS facilitators to my home for dinner, and got to see teachers connect, be in community with each other and make plans for the future. I’m excited to see us building up the number of clubs and know that with the Impacts of Incarceration Video Library, we will be able to reach even more young people impacted by incarceration, no matter where they are or if there is a club available at their school.

When I first walked into the doors of TPN and saw everything they were doing, I knew this place was for me. I see that TPN encourages people to thrive, whatever that looks like for them. It’s a system of caring that I hadn’t seen before; this is my first exposure to a group of people who really have service in mind and are so helpful in the communities they serve. The people at TPN know the struggle and are very willing to help people in their time of need, regardless of what their need is. I know in my heart and soul that this is the right place, and that I can trust the people I’m working with to continue the legacy of POPS Clubs well into the future.