Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am hosting a birthday party for myself. I kind of decided at the last minute. The party is coming together pretty well -- probably because I have a lot of experience hosting events.

I just remembered a couple of people that I definitely should have invited but didn’t. I just didn’t think of them. The party is coming up soon. Do you think it’s OK to call or email them to make a last-minute invitation? -- Party Time

DEAR PARTY TIME: By all means, you should reach out to the people you have just remembered to invite them. Let them know that the party itself was a last-minute idea, and you have been working hard to pull it together. Be honest. Tell them that you inadvertently left their names off the list at first, but you wanted to make sure to personally extend an invitation. Let them know that you hope they can come.

Attempting to include them shows that you care. Also, if they hear stories from the party after the fact, they will know that they were invited.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I read your Feb. 26 answer to "Wayward Son" -- about the reader whose son is coming home from prison -- and I commend you on the wisdom of your answer. I worked in jails for over 20 years, and I have relatives who have been incarcerated. I know most find this difficult to talk about, so they go on alone and in pain.

This encouraged me to write a book, "Let None Walk Alone: A Guideline for the Families of the Incarcerated," by Sister Juanita Ujcik. I take the reader from the arrest through the courts, jail, prison and after care. I also offer suggestions for families -- for themselves and for their incarcerated relative.

My years working in jails have shown me that all ages, education levels, races, religions, etc. are represented in the incarcerated population, so the book should appeal to a wide audience. -- Supporting Families

DEAR SUPPORTING FAMILIES: Thank you for telling us about your book. As you know, incarceration touches many lives -- far more than just those who are incarcerated. Families and communities are affected, and any support they can receive is welcome. I have looked at the information that you offer in your book, and I agree that it can help people who are trying to manage through this difficult period.

I get a lot of letters from people who are incarcerated. While I cannot answer them all, I do want to say to everyone reading that we must not forget our brothers and sisters who are in jail or prison. Many of them will be released at some point and attempt to rejoin society. We need to remember that all of us are humans with strengths and weaknesses. Our compassion and support can make a huge difference in their re-entry and in improving our society overall.

One request I get a lot is for reading material, especially to be sent to smaller prisons. I would encourage my readers to investigate what the rules are about book donations at your nearest jail or prison. The next time you are planning to get rid of books, consider donating them.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)