Mark Continues to Build His Life and a Positive Attitude After Incarceration

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We formerly covered a story on Marka resident at the Spokane Residential Reentry Center (SRRC) back in 2020 and we are proud to update you on his many accomplishments. He is now living in our Carlyle permanent housing program, a student in college with a 4.0 GPA, and an active volunteer for his internship at the Spokane Public Library - Central Branch.

While still in prison, Mark engaged in residential treatment and then followed up with Therapeutic Drug Alcohol Treatment (TDAT) at SRRC. He pursued improving his life and it was during his second time in prison that he realized he needed to change his mind-set and attitude. He wanted to start making positive things happen for himself. 

Mark said, “At the start of my second incarceration, I was in solitary confinement for 14 months and had a lot of time to think about things. I made the decision to focus on changing my attitude and doing things to improve my life – one step at a time. Sometimes you have to be in a bad place to see the good.” 

He continued, “The process started with doing push-ups in my cell. I discovered that even though I may have an amputated arm, I could prop the stump of my left arm, first on the bed, then on a stack of books, and start building up my push-up count. I stuck with it and eventually was able to do standard push-ups off the floor and even some one-handers. Soon the days turned into weeks - and weeks turned into months - and I worked on push-ups daily to improve my strength, all the while unaware that I was also building a positive thought process.” He added, “If you can start doing something positive for yourself and build on it, the rest starts to flow. What they say is absolutely true ‘Try looking for the silver lining.’ If you can just make out a bit of the lining’s shine, you will recognize its’ brilliance the next time you look. From that point forward it begins to shine brighter and brighter through the clouds, slowly turning life's negatives into positives.”

Mark also realized that it took the right attitude linked with support services to make positive changes in his life and in the community. When he was living at SRRC Pioneer staff was able to connect him with many resources to advance his goals.

Mark shared, “Pioneer is great about hooking you up with a wide array of resources. I was connected with a licensed social worker, the Public Defender’s Office, disability benefits, housing, information on school and many other things.”

Initially, Mark was set up and lived at an Oxford House for clean and sober living. He then went to live at the Phoenix House, Pioneer’s transitional housing program. Before his six months at the Phoenix came to a close, Mark transitioned into Pioneer’s Carlyle apartments, a permanent housing program. He stated, “I love my apartment here at the Carlyle and was incredibly happy when the opportunity opened for me to move. I hope I can live here forever.”

While Mark was finishing his sentence at SRRC, he began his education goals. “I started my education while at the SRRC, at the beginning of COVID, in a little room that staff opened for me each day to complete my online lessons. It was during those severe lockdowns we all experienced, that I completed my first quarter with a 4.0 GPA, while still at the SRRC," Mark stated. "I then went on to receive an AA at Spokane Falls Community College. In June 2024, I will graduate from Eastern Washington University (EWU) with a bachelor’s degree in social work. Due to the support from Pioneer and a change in attitude along the way, I have been given an opportunity and so I work hard at school to maintain a 4.0 GPA throughout my studies. My plan is to continue my education at EWU and get into the accelerated, one-year program for a master’s in social work due to the high GPA I have attained,” he added.

Mark has really enjoyed his internship work at the Spokane Public Library – Central Branch where he helps patrons, including formerly incarcerated individuals, find the resources they need in the community. It is part of the Whole-Person Librarianship program - a hub for a library-social work collaboration that is in its' infancy.

Mark concluded, “I owe a great deal of my success thus far to Pioneer Human Services. They have provided support services, treatment, affordable housing, community connections and positive reassurance to me through my education efforts. After I earn my bachelor’s in social work in 2024 at EWU, I know they will continue to encourage me when I pursue the accelerated master’s degree the following year. I have discovered that just a minor change in how you view the world around you can bring about a tremendous change in attitude. Those attitude changes will then draw people to you that will help you achieve your goals and give you all the resources you need. A positive attitude creates a positive outlook and attracts positive things to you.”  

Tuesday, September 19, 2023