We continue today to follow the StoryCorps challenge from David Isay to record stories from those whose voices are often not heard. Here's an interview with James, another of the leaders in our Successful Returning Citizens Mentoring Support Group, sharing his perspectives on faith, gratitude and the legacy he aspires to leave for his four children.
We continue today to follow the StoryCorps challenge from David Isay to record stories from those whose voices are often not heard. Here's an interview with Tracy, one of the leaders in our Successful Returning Citizens Mentoring Support Group, sharing the wisdom she's gained in her 54 years of life so far about overcoming adversity, living with stigma, not letting your past define you, and being grateful.
We recently received this letter from a client in our Reentry Employment Program at PA CareerLink of Lancaster County:
Finding employment in today's economic climate is a daunting task for a "normal" person with "normal" challenges. The difficulties in securing an interview, let alone a job offer, are exponentially increased for an ex-offender who was incarcerated for five years in a state correctional institution. I felt as though I had a Scarlet Letter attached to my back.
Having never been a fan of "government" or "government-related" programs, I was not initially enthusiastic about the prospects of the Re-entry Program at the Lancaster County Career Link. T.A.B.E. test? Aced that in prison. Complete a video course about showing up to work on time, properly groomed and attired? Common sense. How are those things going to assist me in my job search? I must humbly admit I was wrong . . .
J is a 34 year-old male with a criminal history spanning 15 years that included drug and DUI offenses, burglary, assault and other charges. He had dropped out of high school, but later completed his GED while in prison. He had a history of repeated bouts of homelessness, as well as a long history of alcohol and prescription drug addiction. He also had a history of being physically abused as a child.
He has no family support. He has 3 children but their mother forbids him to see them.
While incarcerated at LCP the client completed the RMO Reentry Course, and then was referred to the RMO Intensive program . . .
Mr M. is a 47 year-old male, who has a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder with severe alcoholism and anger issues. He had no family support and nowhere to live upon release from LCP. The client had spent most of the two years before coming into the RMO in and out of prison. His PO indicated that he had never been able to stay out of jail for more than a couple of months at a time.
He came into the RMO Intensive program for the first time in October, 2012. The RMO provided transitional housing and assigned an RMO case manager. The RMO case manager worked with the client to lay out a detailed set of goals, action steps and due dates, and helped the client get set up with a drug and alcohol evaluation. After the evaluation, the client started attending AA/NA meetings and weekly individual and group D&A counseling.
He enrolled in the Reentry Employment Program at CareerLink, completed the initial required workshops and quickly earned his Ready2Work certificate at the "Gold" level.
The client was interested in working with computers and hoped to start his own small business, so the RMO case manager got him connected with SCORE. The client worked with SCORE to develop a business plan for a computer repair business. He completed "Metrics" computer training courses through the CareerLink and over a period of about 4 months, he successfully started up a small computer repair business and had some clients.
He moved out of the RMO transitional housing, began making payments on his fines and costs, and was attending AA/NA meetings regularly. He had been on SCRAM monitoring when he first came out of LCP and he successfully completed his term of monitoring to have the monitor removed. The client also did volunteer work for a local church, and enrolled in "Rite of Christian Initiation" classes to be accepted into membership in the Catholic church.
When he was discharged from the RMO in March, 2013, he was working steadily, making regular payments on his fines and costs, attending AA and NA meetings, and doing well.
A couple of months later, he had a DUI charge. He contacted his RMO case manager and requested another chance with the RMO program to help him get back on track. The client came back into the RMO in June, 2013. The RMO case manager and the client drew up a highly detailed "recovery plan" that included further D&A treatment and counseling, as well as a mental health evaluation.
The RMO Case manager and the client also worked closely with the client's PO. The PO discussed the client's situation with her supervisors and Adult Probation & Parole agreed to put the client back on electronic monitoring instead of re-incarcerating him.
The client had gotten engaged, and at the urging of the RMO case manager, the client and his fiancée started attending counseling together. By July, 2013, the client had been placed in a full time job as a roofer making $12/hour, was maintaining sobriety and attending drug and alcohol counseling and receiving mental health treatment.
Today, a year and a half later, the client continues to stay in touch with his RMO case manager and recently reported that he is continuing to work as a roofer and is doing very well.