For many Fortune participants, the Discharge Planning program is their first entry point to Fortune, and staff members like David Rodriguez are among the first faces they see. Throughout David’s ten years at The Fortune Society, he has impacted the lives of many as a Case Manager in Discharge Planning and has grown alongside the organization.
Participants can begin the Discharge Planning program while they are still incarcerated at Rikers Island, or within the first year after their release. The program uses a holistic approach to reentry and focuses on the essentials for an individual’s first year after incarceration, such as applying for identification documents, parenting classes, group counseling, professional development courses and relapse prevention workshops.
David’s first interaction with Fortune was similar to many of the participants he now supports: he was formerly incarcerated and was referred to a two-week employment workshop at Fortune by his parole officer. Upon completion of the course, he accepted a position as an intern in Discharge Planning, and just months later, transitioned into a permanent role as a Case Manager.
“I have stayed here because I get to help folks who came up like I came up. And I get to give back and help those who are now in need. Once, I was in their shoes. Who could relate to those in need better than myself? To continue helping the population that I was once a part of is rewarding.”
Even though David and his fellow case managers in Discharge Planning are only contracted to work with participants for the first year after their release, he emphasizes how he and the Fortune community maintain relationships for years to follow. A key part of David’s role includes referring participants to other programs within Fortune to ensure continuity of care.
“Even if that year expires, we will still work with the clients and assist them with what they need. We won’t just say, ‘we can’t work with you anymore.’ We will always be happy to help them,” he said.
David enjoys seeing familiar faces, even if he is no longer their case manager: “It is good to see people steadily coming here. Getting the help that they may need. It keeps them grounded, this place.”
David has also enjoyed seeing how Fortune’s response to our community and services has changed over the years. He recalls the opening of Castle Gardens, our permanent, supportive and affordable housing facility for formerly homeless justice-involved individuals and low-income families, a decade ago and the hesitancy within the local community towards affordable housing for the justice-involved.
We thank David for his ten years at Fortune and his commitment to helping participants reach success. Make a donation today to support thousands of individuals’ successful reentry into the community after incarceration.
Photos courtesy of AP Photo/Seth Wenig.