Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for November, 2019

  1. The sound of silence
  2. Soft cats and dogs
  3. Sofas with pillows
  4. Fresh juice 
  5. Real milk
  6. Fruits and veggies 
  7. All the colors of the rainbow, not just orange and grey
  8. An endless supply of Charmin that NEVER runs out
  9. Swimming pools
  10. Bubble baths
  11. Singing in the shower
  12. Barefoot days
  13. A heavenly mattress
  14. Crystal glasses
  15. Proper knives and forks 
  16. Movies in a real theater
  17. Long walks in lovely places
  18. Surfing the net
  19. The Art Museum
  20. The Library
  21. Dresses & earrings
  22. Perfume
  23. Feeling pretty
  24. The scent of flowers in a shop
  25. Dancing all by myselfScreen Shot 2019-11-28 at 10.44.19 AM

 

 

Read Full Post »

One night in winter, our cell was clammy and freezing and we had on every piece of clothing we could arrange to keep us warm. All lightweight cotton so it didn’t help much.

While we shivered, I grumbled about living with our teeth constantly chattering. My cellmate agreed, but said, “I’m glad I’m here. I’m safe here, My husband and my son can’t hurt me.”

She went on to stun me with some of the instances of their abuse of her, much too graphic to share here. No, she didn’t kill them or even hurt them. She did their bidding and she was in prison.  They were free. The world is full of victims, both inside prison and out. 

Screen Shot 2019-11-17 at 2.22.31 PM.png

 

“… according to a 2016 study published by the Vera Institute of Justice, 86 percent of women in jail are survivors of sexual violence, and 77 percent are survivors of intimate partner violence.”

This abuse has been going on for millennium. It takes courage to speak out. Thanks to all who do, especially my friend Linda King, founder of Help Fix the Hurt. Their work is incredibly important.

https://www.helpfixthehurt.org

“There is no agency that collects official data on the number of survivors incarcerated for defending themselves and no national statistics that track the rate of this criminalization. But according to a 2016 study published by the Vera Institute of Justice, 86 percent of women in jail are survivors of sexual violence, and 77 percent are survivors of intimate partner violence.”

https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/8/23/20828367/cyntoia-brown-sexual-domestic-abuse-prison-pipeline

Read Full Post »

Homelessness

Note: Chris DiRusso is a founding member of Formerly Incarcerated College Graduate Network and a recent graduate of Boston College. His determination is astonishing and his story, inspiring.

One of the biggest things that holds many of us back is being released with limited or nonexistent support system and nowhere to go. Homelessness can derail our hopes and dreams and suck the life out of plans.

Those that come home can find unity in our little network and an emotional support system that is here 24/7.

I don’t post as often so many of the new members may not know who I am. I am one of the cofounders and a current board member until January when my board term expires.

I think about you all everyday and am excited by the things many of you have accomplished after getting your degrees and overcoming the challenges that constantly get the way, as we try to navigate back into the world.

Homelessness is on the rise and more and more college students are being affected and this includes us. I battled homelessness when I came home for 22 months; I was living on the streets and sometimes in a shelter, which I believe are worse than any prison or jail where I have served time.

It also took 16 months to find a job, which I kept for two years. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Homelessness can be a returning citizen’s worst nightmare and I am grateful that many of us had the support we needed and did not have to experience not having a home at all.

Here in Boston, there was little hope, at the time, that I would find housing without an income or a job that paid more than a couple dollars above minimum wage. My barriers did not help either; it is hard to get any government support while having felonies and I found a new barrier that I did not know existed at the time – “Fulltime Student.” I was repeatedly turned down for services and I thought it was because I was going to a private school (Boston University) because my friend Kelley was getting services (minor CORI and attending public school Umass), but after reading, I had found out that fulltime student status is not entitled to services and some states restrict even food stamps.

Because I kept hitting road blocks due to what I later learned about my fulltime status, I decided that I was on my own. And I have struggled ever since. Some of it has to do with my CORI, some has to do with income, and some has to do with bad luck.

I am coming up to my six year anniversary of being released. I have seen friends with support make it with what seemed like magical ease, and I had had friends that came home and now own houses and the like. Succeeding is more than possible and we got this, believe me we got this. Some of us just take a longer journey, but what is borne out of such trials and tribulations will make us appreciate what we have all the more.

At the 22 month mark and being at my job for six months, I felt confident renting a room by the week, so I did. I could not have guests over at all, which limited social interactions but it worked. After six months a friend told me about a room where he lived; the room was 200 square feet compared to the ninety I had and in a much better neighborhood, as far as commute, stores and the like, so I moved. It was a couple weeks before I graduated with my bachelors in English.

Two days after Christmas the landlord asked me to move for in my opinion for no good reason but offered two months free rent so I did not fight it, but it had to do with my CORI. I started stressing because finding even a room with a CORI can take months. Here in Massachusetts landlords can disqualify you for your record, and they use your credit score. yes even for rooms.

It was stressful because that following January I started grad school. When moving time came I had yet to find a place but I lost my job due to letting stress hinder my progress. I was homeless again and remained homeless for 20 more months. Ag last I rented a full apartment with the aid of a grad plus loan from the government and freelance work. I took on a roommate, but the place was a dive and the gas bill cost me $500 per month, which ate into my reserves that I had built up. My lease was only for six months. I was fine with that and the lady said that is what the landlord does. Unfortunately my struggle wasn’t over–and it wasn’t the $500 dollar monthly gas bill either. In January of this year, I found out the landlord was selling the building and the new landlords would need to gut the building due to the numerous violations. It’s a pretty building now and expensive.

I checked the laws and talked with a few advocates and there was nothing I could do because I was given a written notice from the new landlords that my lease would not be renewed. They gave me more than the required advance warning. I had no money and I was graduating this year, so I had no more extra money to help move.

Yes, I became homeless for the third time in almost six years. And after about 2000 applications in my industry, I remain homeless. I make money but not enough and to add insult to injury, I was unable to maintain my bills and my credit is now too low and has charge offs, which will affect my chances of getting a place. I found that for us, at least here in mass, having great credit, especially a perfect payment score helped ease landlords apprehensions.

If anyone is suffering because they are experiencing homelessness, please reach out to me or someone you know. This last stint has made me aware of how important selfcare is and how it can affect us in ways that make no sense. I got a client to ghostwrite his novels in his series. I did that job but stressed the whole time about paying my bills. He gave me something else to prepare for and I stressed it out of existence.

Now I am trying to mend something that if I practiced selfcare would not be an issue. I self-sabotaged a decent income potential because I let stress of my bills and homelessness get in the way. Reach out to someone that you know, Share here. We got you. I got you. Emotional support is all most of us can offer but a job offer or lead could be a post away.

Please, if you need someone to talk to because you are experiencing homelessness, especially if your going to school, reach out to me or someone you trust. I am sharing this in hopes that if anyone is experiencing homelessness, they will know that they are not alone.

If you’re going to school and wonder if it is even possible to graduate while experiencing homelessness, I did twice. Reach out to me and I can tell you how I managed. The short answer though is this:  because of this group and the emotional support system I needed that included  Mrs. Obama—mostly for emotional support, but some monetary. It was the emotional support that kept me pushing forward.

I wish you the best. You got this!

Screen Shot 2019-11-10 at 11.15.07 PM

Read Full Post »