A Hawaii non-profit is $20,000 richer, in part because a former inmate says Read to Me International saved her life.

One phase of the program operates in Hawaii's prisons. At the women's facility, they've taken it one step further with Haku Moolelo, where volunteers help female inmates write, illustrate and publish a children's book. Most for their own families.

Former inmate Lois Kim was part of that program, she wrote a book for her daughter.

Now out of prison and on her own and working two jobs, she continues to write. A second book is coming out this week. Like the first, picked up professionally by Water Mark Publishing.

She recently shared her story with a national audience at a conference on the mainland. Five non profits including Read to Me International were finalists for a $50,000 award.

"It meant so much to me to be able to have a national platform to share about this organization that saved my life and I believe continues to save others," Kim said. 

Each non profit received $10,000 and her presentation won Read to Me International's Audience Favorite Award. That money will help buy books so the organization continue its reading programs in Hawaii's prisons.

"Right now we work in a different facilities across the state of Hawaii and we've seen the population we've operated have immense success, we have antidotes come across from different facilities about the progress we've seen from reading allowed to children," Kara Kusonoki, Read To Me International Foundation executive director, said. 

The Haku Moolelo program at the Women's Community Correctional Center not only produced stories for children but messages of hope and pride.

"I think they need to have those moments when they know they matter. When they know that they're valued and they have something to contribute," Lynn Waihee, Read To Me International, said.  

Kim will be holding a reading and book signing for her second book Sunday at 1 p.m. at Barnes and Noble Ala Moana. A portion of the proceeds will go to Parents and Children Together for their programs at Kahauiki village.