‘Big Cement Momma’ Becomes Prison Sobriety Beacon
We love profiling inspirational people within the recovery world. And sometimes they can be found in the most unlikely of places. In the Lehigh County Correctional Institution, for example, there is “Big Cement Momma,” a 78-year-old addiction specialist, who has changed the lives of hundreds of inmates.
Also known as Joanne Heinrich, Big Cement Momma has spent over two decades instilling her nurturing, yet stern recovery tactics to a captive audience of incarcerated addicts. Heinrich, herself, is a recovery alcoholic, with 30 years of sobriety under her belt. Now, she spends up to 14 hours a day lecturing, listening and supporting prisoners struggling with addiction.
“I don’t give up, even though to some of them I’m the enemy because I’m standing in the way of what they love,” she explained to a local outlet.
Inmates interviewed for the story revealed that Joanne has changed countless lives. Her “cold turkey” philosophy includes letting go of cursing, negative body language and poor hygiene, as well as the addictions they crave.
Though difficult at first, Heinrich’s regimen has become very successful; creating an almost family-like atmosphere between the prisoners and their “Momma.”
“It’s different from any other jail I’ve been in,” inmate Kevin Milton explained. “It really is like a family atmosphere.”