Fortune client Jose Jordan has been involved in the criminal justice system since 1989. Released in 2014 and now employed, Jose recently secured his first one-bedroom apartment with our help. When introduced to him, his Fortune Case Manager, Nelson Rivera, made it clear: Fortune will help open doors to new opportunities, but it’s Jose’s responsibility to work hard for it. Jose accepted the challenge with a determination to succeed. “This is the longest that I’ve been home. Everything is new to me now.” he says, “I’m not [completely happy yet], but I’m getting there. It feels good.”
Jose kept his slippers from Rikers Island, and sits them by his bed in his new apartment. They remind him of where he’s come from, and that the path to a fulfilled, healthy life is a journey that he’s still on. “Everybody works on their recovery differently. Mine is complicated. I go to my block, and see my friends [still struggling]. But I’ve already said no [to that life]. I chose ‘no.'” Keeping a tangible reminder of his experience in incarceration affirms that he made the right choice. “It gives me strength,” he says.
Much of Jose’s new apartment décor depicts skulls and skeletons because “they’re different.” ”I told myself that when I got my first apartment, I would [decorate it with skull and skeleton designs],” he shares. These decorations have a special meaning to Jose, and his ability to personalize his own space is a freedom he values.
This newfound freedom was facilitated by Fortune staff. He was surprised he qualified for the apartment, and got emotional when his case manager told him he had a place of his own: “When Nelson handed me the keys, it felt good. I hugged him..I almost cried.” Indeed, Jose’s close relationship with Nelson made the news all the more special. “[Nelson] was mad cool from the beginning,” he says, “since I met him, we got along.”
Safe outlets, like tattoo art, also provide a source of strength and self-expression. An elaborate tattoo on his arm, which he got after his release, represents pain, death and stress. Another one on his back reads, “What’s Done is Done Been There Done That.” Jose knows: “there’s no reason for me to look back.”
Still, choosing not to look back doesn’t diminish past hurt. “I was an abused child. Inside of me, I still got a little pain,” Jose shares. “But…I’m gonna live a good life. I’m tired of prison. I’m tired of being in trouble.” Little by little, Jose is taking steps on the path to true progress, and he isn’t afraid to share where he’s been. “I don’t hide nothing about my past,” he says, “It is what it is. I probably could inspire some other people to do good.”
Our holistic set of programs and services helps justice-involved individuals thrive as positive, contributing members of society. With your contributions, others like Jose can find paths forward.