There are really great stories out there about individuals and organizations that make a daily choice to be that person or organization that cares enough, that sees the potential in all humans to know that it’s all about second chances. We all get second chances all the time; do-overs; get-out-of-jai-free (or for a nominal fee) cards and more that we take for granted. We think nothing of it. In fact we expect it.
You may not have gotten a speeding ticket lately, but you might have picked up a few parking tickets here and there. What happens? Well, for most of us we pay the fine; maybe go to driving school (keep those points off the ol’ record), but unless you’ve made it a practice of collecting these things, you can consider yourself awarded a second chance. A second chance to use the public roads to go to and from work, maybe pick up your kids from school, or make that very important meeting that could launch your dreams.
Typically, individuals released from incarceration, although no longer behind bars, are nevertheless still in shackles. The restrictions are many as to freedom of movement, where one is allowed to live and with whom. Many programs that once served to aid the reentry process of the recently released have been made out of reach for the individual or dissolved altogether. As rules go, I doubt you or I could survive under such restrictions, yet we demand from those who have so much less to survive and succeed with few resources and fewer support mechanisms in place than is humane. Yet we think nothing of building up a case against those with a past that included incarceration.
What happens to you if you get laid off or even fired from your job? You’ve got a couple of options, find another job or maybe collect unemployment. Right? So, say you find that new job and before you can begin, they do a background check on you. What will they find? How generous do you think they will be with you? How forgiving, accepting, accommodating? How likely do you think it is that you will even get to that first day of work if you are recently released from prison and the best you can hope for is maybe a day laborer’s job at less than minimum wage under the table? Or you get hired and you work your first week and when it comes time for the paycheck there isn’t one, because your employer just fired you because of your prison background and you have no pay for the work you did? Where are the second chances here?
There is a third option, helping individuals discover their true calling, help them turn that calling into a business and ask community leaders to roll up those sleeves, see these individuals as worth mentoring into an entrepreneur that can stand on his or her own among other businesses and thrive.
One such organization is making this happen in a big way; Defy Ventures, Inc. In their “About Us” page, Defy Ventures says the following: “Defy Ventures Transforms the lives o business leaders and people with criminal histories through their collaboration along the entrepreneurial journey.” They do more then what is expected from the typical nonprofit agency missioned to help recently released individuals find jobs, shelter and reconnect with family. They help each individual rewrite the story they tell about themselves. Give them solid tools to succeed, mentors from the business world and the type of support and encouragement most of us would envy.
Watch the full video from Second Chances: MDC Humanitarian Award Recipient and see for yourself what can be done when passion is leading the way.
Catherine Hoke (Rohr) tells the story of how she saw the value inherent in the men that were incarcerated with those running major corporations and thriving.
Inspired by Herb Blake
This section is devoted to the inspired work of those dedicated to addressing the needs of the recently released from incarceration, individuals that have been victimized and the community to heal and know that in the human community all things are possible.