Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes…
This past weekend I completed my training to be a volunteer mentor for Hour Children. At some point next year, I will be receiving my newly released mentee. In the training, a personal anecdote was shared about one of the women in the program. I wanted to share with all of you what she wrote about her experience after she was newly released from prison:
“I start my day running to drop my urine (drug testing). Then I go see my children, show up for my training program, look for a job, go to a meeting (Alcoholics Anonymous) and show up at my part-time job. I have to take the bus everywhere, sometimes eight buses for 4 hours a day. I don’t have the proper outer clothes, I don’t have money to buy lunch along the way, and everyone who works with me keeps me waiting so that I am late to my next appointment. If I fail any one of these things and my PO (parole office) finds out, I am revoked. I am so tired that I sometimes fall asleep on my way home from work at 2 a.m. and that’s dangerous given where I live. And then the next day I have to start over again. I don’t mind being busy and working hard…that’s part of my recovery. But this is a situation that is setting me up to fail. I just can’t keep up and I don’t know where to start. I want my kids, I need a place to stay, I have to have a job, meetings keep me clean, and I am required to be in job training.”
This is just one example of the many demands put on the life of a formerly incarcerated woman. In her story, she suggests that the overwhelming demands of her daily life are about to consume her and possibly make her fail. This very woman was able to get a mentor through the program and she has found ways to better handle her daily routine and has found other resources to help her. The power of many are greater than any one person.