"Get On The Bus" is a program aimed at providing children across the state a special day to visit their incarcerated parents.
Today they held their annual event for the first time in over three years.
“I met my dad for the first time ever you know he’s been locked up almost 20 years," said one of the program participants, Preston Baldwin.
For Baldwin, it was a moment he had been dreaming of. He had not seen his father since he was three years old.
“Just the best day of my life you know been looking forward to this day my whole life," said Baldwin.
Traveling all the way from Missouri, Baldwin was one of 169 children and chaperons who made their way to the central coast today to visit their dads at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo.
“The prison is shut down to everybody except for the "Get On The Bus" visitors. It’s a four-hour visit with dad and then they come up to Mountainbrook for an ice cream social and they get stay connected bag with a photo from their visit," said central coast regional coordinator, Mary Thielscher.
"Get On The Bus" serves 14 prisons throughout the state and locally the California Men’s Colony, reuniting children with their incarcerated parents through a no-cost trip that includes transportation and meals.
It’s not a regular visit.
The time spent with their loved ones is unique. The dads and children get to embrace each other during the visit and share a meal.
“For the day the child gets to have a parent. The parent gets to serve their child a meal, they get to ask them what snack they want and they can go grab it for them, so they get to be that parent for the day," said executive director, Liz Rios.
For Baldwin, it will be a day forever in his heart.
“I’ll always remember this day," shared Baldwin.
The program is all based-on donations and volunteer help. To volunteer or to donate you can visit thiswebsite.