“RE-EDUCATING MYSELF” –
A story from Milestone Place
Mr. TR had suffered from chronic homelessness and incarceration for approximately 30 years. When he was released from prison in March 2014, he started his journey towards sobriety and began working on his recovery with Regional Addiction Prevention. Through our connection with Regional Addiction Prevention, Mr. TR was identified as a potential client for housing at Milestone Place, our single room occupancy (S.R.O) residential facility.
Mr. TR thrived at Milestone Place. Since being at Milestone Place, he became a board member for First Stop Recovery Resource and Wellness Center where he earned his Certified Peer Specialist Certificate and also joined the board of Ex-Offender Anonymous (EXOA). He continued to contribute and worked with Department of Behavioral Health as a peer specialist and became certified to train others as Peer Specialist through National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI).
“Receiving keys from Milestone was the first time I had keys in my hand to my own room in 30 years. Being at Milestone has helped me to re-educate myself on how to take care of myself and be a productive member of society. Being involved in the program has helped me tremendously. For the first time since 1987, I was released from parole and living life on my own terms. I feel that I am blessed to be here and am thankful for all the love and care I received while living here at Milestone Place.”
TAKING IT STEP BY STEP TOWARDS SUCCESS
Ms. BW is a client who has made great progress since she has been working with the reentry program at CFLS. She joined the program in 2015, while she was incarcerated at the Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF) in DC. She was incarcerated for over a year there, one of many previous incarcerations she had. However, when Ms. BW was released in 2016, she noted that she was more prepared than she had ever been before. She had met with her CFLS Reentry Case manager at CTF weekly during her incarceration. Together, they set reasonable goals and worked on a tangible reentry plan. They took it step by step and Ms. BW acknowledged how delighted she was to have someone show that they cared so much. She said this gave her motivation and hope. With the help of her CFLS case manager, Ms. BW was able to obtain transitional housing immediately upon release, reconnect with her mental health provider, and obtain a full new wardrobe of clothing to get started in the community. With a referral from her CFLS case manager, she was also able to get linked into the Women’s Reentry Program at Thrive DC and has been working with the employment specialist at CFLS to obtain employment. Ms. BW eagerly attends groups and meetings and has remained clean since her release. She continues to work with staff at CFLS and said that she is very proud of how far she has come this time around.
A story of a mother and her son
Ms. MA first connected with CFLS while she was incarcerated at the Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF) in 2013. She was serving an 18 month sentence – her first – and was in need of guidance and support. Ms. MA worked with the Reentry Case Manager from CFLS throughout her time at CTF, primarily focusing on locating transitional housing for her and her seven-year-old son. With three months left to serve on her sentence, Ms. MA was transferred to the Federal Bureau of Prisons facility in Philadelphia. Her CFLS Case Manager found out that she had been transferred, located her within the BOP system and immediately reached out to the BOP Reentry Coordinator at FDC Philadelphia to continue her release planning. After three months of conference calls and long-distance release planning, she returned home. Once she returned home, her CFLS Case Manager advocated for her to be accepted into a family reunification housing program – an application that was completed while she was incarcerated – and she moved in with her son within months of her release. CFLS connected her with a mentor; our in-house employment services and linked her to a community mental health provider. In April 2015, Ms. MA graduated from Project Empowerment and is currently working as a receptionist.
NOW I HAVE “THE TENACITY TO PUSH MYSELF”
When Ms. KJ became a mentee with our Family to Family Mentoring program, she was homeless with her two daughters and was living with friends. They did not have much stability in their lives as they were not sure where they were going to be sleeping next or where their meal next was going to come from. She described herself as “overwhelmed, unemployed, insecure and just feeling defeated by life.”
For Ms. KJ, Family to Family Mentoring program soon became a second family. She enjoyed coming to the meetings and being part of the social support network that had been created among the families in the program. She was able to participate in job-readiness activities such as developing her resume, conducting job searches and mock interviews. She also learned about healthy living, money management and participated in essential skill-building workshops such as home-buying.
“The program also helped me build my confidence and drive to want and do better for my daughters and myself. They brought my girls and me closer by having family oriented activities like painting on canvas, berry picking, picnicking at Great Wolf Lodge and visits to animal farms - giving me the opportunity to create amazing and everlasting memories with my daughters that I would have never been able to afford at the time.”
She was paired with a dedicated mentor, Ms. TR. According to Ms. KJ, her mentor continued to push her to succeed, reminded her of the power within her and held her accountable. With the help of CFLS, her mentor and Ms. KJ’s determination and perseverance, she has been employed for more than three years. In June 2016, she bought a new home for her family.
“I'm still faced with obstacles every day that I still have to overcome. The difference now is, I have the tenacity to push myself past my comfort zone and into my greatness. The best of me is still to come.”
ADVOCATING FOR “BAN THE BOX” –
A story from our Employment Program
Ms. MG came to CFLS while in the process of completing her court supervised drug treatment. From day one, she had a determined spirit and a fighting will. Ms. MG worked diligently with the Employment Program and received a position with a prominent hospital within the DC area. Through this position, she was able to get herself on the track to success. She was excited to be able to pay her car loan, buy her son’s football uniform and give her children a great holiday experience. She graduated from the drug treatment program and CFLS was excited to be part of the celebration.
Ms. M.G faced hurdles throughout her commitment to reach her goals and manage her success. One of these roadblocks came from her employers when they informed her that she would not be given a permanent position at the hospital which was different from what they had informed her of initially. Our Employment Specialist explained to her the rights she has under Ban the Box and her right to appeal if she believes she was discriminated against based on whether she had been involved in the criminal justice system. Meanwhile, our Employment Specialist continued to assist her in finding new employment opportunities and was able to secure a position with another hospital. Our Employment Specialist continued to advocate for her and stood by her side through the appeal process with the Office of Human Rights. In the end, Ms. MG won the case and walked away with a financial settlement. She was also hired full time at her new position.
SHE MADE HER DREAM COME TRUE –
HER OWN DAY CARE CENTER
Ms. DC joined Family to Family Mentoring program in August 2015. During her initial meeting with the program manager, Ms. DC talked about her hopes and dreams, including her dream of opening a home based daycare center. She explained that her business license and recertification had expired. Immediately, the program manager matched her with one of our mentors, Mr. JB who is a successful entrepreneur interested in sharing his knowledge of business with small business owners and startup businesses.
Ms. DC and her new mentor began working tirelessly to get her in-home daycare center up and running. They made visits to the DC Office of Corporations and Regulatory Affairs, the Office of Taxation and other agencies to ascertain what was needed to get the daycare up and running. Mr. JB continued to mentor Ms. DC through a mirage of red tape and hoops to get Tender Kind Care (TKC) set up. As the cost of starting the business became clear to Ms. DC, she was hesitant to take the next steps, but we encouraged her to get the final numbers, so we could work together to make her dream come true. She was able to cover the cost of establishing TKC with the support and help from CFLS (who provided funds for her background check and the cost of the business registration). On April 16, 2016, Tender Kind Care (TKC) was officially open for services. She came to the office, with tears shining in her eyes and said,
“I don’t know how I would have made this happen without my Family-to-Family mentor and the support of Family-to-Family program.”
FROM 33 YEARS IN PRISON TO HOMEOWNERSHIP
In August 2016, Ms. MW entered CFLS doors after completing a 33 year prison sentence. Since then, she has worked diligently in positioning herself for a brighter future. While working with our Employment Program, Ms. MW received 3 job offers. She started working with a prominent hotel in Washington, DC and received two promotions, secured permanent housing and also purchased her first vehicle. She continues to stay in constant communication with CFLS staff and makes inquiries regarding her current and future steps.
Currently, Ms. MW makes $19.80 an hour and continues to be a successful at what she does. She has received two service awards and is looking to purchase her first home by next year.