After thirty-one years in prison, I was released in October 2016 with few resources. I had to quickly adjust to a society that was drastically different from what I knew before incarceration, and needed help making it on my own.
My challenge with re-entering into the community was compounded by medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and a partial foot amputation. For years, my requests in prison to address needs like obtaining a prosthetic were ignored.
After my release, I stayed at a men’s shelter, but knew I couldn’t stay there long. I was ready to change my life and move on.
Eventually, I wrote a letter to The Fortune Society asking for help. They responded immediately, and I was encouraged to go to their headquarters in Long Island City, Queens. The same day I stopped in, I received a room at their transitional housing unit, The Fortune Academy. Now, I’m thankful and relieved to have a safe place to stay.
In addition to housing, I now have access to health care to address my medical needs, and can talk with people like Kelly Fortner, my Care Navigator, to help avoid making mistakes that may lead to further justice involvement. For the first time, I’m learning to open up, and it feels good.
I’m particularly excited about pursuing an education with Fortune’s help. I’ve wanted to obtain my High School Equivalency Diploma for a long time now. Fortune showed me that it’s never too late to achieve this goal. As a result, I plan to participate in Fortune’s Education and Culinary Arts programs starting next year.
Looking forward, I hope to become a professional in the food industry. And although I’m just getting started, I want to give back to Fortune by mentoring their younger clients.
Thanks to Fortune, my life has changed forever. For the first time, I’m meeting inspiring individuals who are empathetic and eager to help me find solutions to my needs. I look forward to the journey that lays ahead and, with Fortune’s help, know I will succeed.