Getting the Support You Need After Prison is Priceless
I am sharing my story with you on how Pioneer helped me build a path in life to move forward after my release from prison. There are many housing, employment and social barriers that formerly incarcerated people face when re-entering society after serving time. Pioneer has services and tools that can help you work around the barriers and have a second chance in life.
Hearing about Pioneer
Before I finished serving my sentence in prison, the Chaplain told me about several organizations that might be able to help me with work, job training and housing. I connected with Pioneer Human Services after I read about their services and mission to give people “a chance for change,” and I have to say it was one of the best things I did.
Roadmap to Success
First, I came in and applied for Pioneer’s Roadmap to Success job-readiness training program. I needed work to be able to get an apartment and pay rent. I was staying at a friend’s house and over at the Indian Men’s Hostel but that wasn’t a long-term solution.
Even though I wasn’t accepted into Roadmap in the first round, the Pioneer staff encouraged me to come back and try again. I did and was accepted into the program, graduating in May 2015. The program gave me positive thinking tools that helped me build-up my confidence and reach towards improving my life.
Your mind can play negative games with you and keep you down. Asha was the instructor of the Roadmap to Success program when I was in class, and she and her entire staff worked with me on my resume and job tools, but more importantly, they helped to build me up so I believed in myself and got rid of that negative wheel that was turning inside. They also helped me prepare for job interviews, set-up interviews for me, and encouraged me to apply for jobs.
My case manager continued to work with me and impressed upon me that I needed to focus on putting aside the negative baggage I still carried with me. She taught me to focus on improving my life and stop dwelling on the past. She was right to point me in the direction looking forward.
I got hired at a recycling company through Pioneer’s employment specialist a week before I graduated from Roadmap, but my new boss gave me the time to finish the program and graduate. My boss has been the most supportive person I have ever worked for and believes in Pioneer’s mission. She is all about giving people a second chance. I’ve worked there for over four and a half years now and really feel respected and appreciated for my work ethic and drive. I’m very grateful to both my boss and Pioneer for their help.
The Need for Housing
After I landed a job I applied for housing at Pioneer and was accepted into their transitional housing to start. I eventually moved into their permanent housing in Seattle.
Having a roof over your head is everything. Never take it for granted! Food – shelter and clothing are three basics that all humans need. When you are staying in shelters, in doorways, on the streets and in parks; your cleanliness, self-respect and mental health slowly sink. There is a huge difference between “what you need” and “what you want.” What you need - you can’t really live without – but I always say “you don’t NEED what you WANT.” There is a difference.
I have grown daughters and a few grandchildren, and I always try to stress that we need to be satisfied with what we have – the rest can be acquired eventually.
The feeling of having my own home to live-in is very important to me. And the added support that Pioneer’s housing and case management staff offers so I CAN live an independent and productive life is priceless.
We all need to learn to ask for help when we need it. I am very grateful to Pioneer Human Services and all of their support services.