When Raymond was released from Rikers Island in May 2020 and came to The Fortune Society, he felt immense relief. Rikers is an inhumane, unsanitary place where social distancing is impossible. At the height of the pandemic, it became an epicenter of COVID-19. Rikers was an especially dangerous place for Raymond, who lives with asthma, diabetes, and other health challenges.
Thankfully, due to his medical issues, he was released early.
But when he came to The Fortune Society, he found the community he needed to change his life.
After release, Raymond came straight to Freedom House, Fortune’s new housing unit in East Harlem. Freedom House opened in the midst of the pandemic in April, providing 38 beds for men who are currently or likely to be detained and have behavioral health needs. Residents receive Fortune’s array of services, including case management and mental health and substance use treatment.
Raymond also received an emergency cell phone to access services virtually, and participates in daily Zoom wellness checks with Fortune’s Prepare for Release (I-CAN) team. Most importantly, Raymond enrolled in Fortune’s Care Management Unit, who immediately connected him with a primary care doctor and other medical professionals to meet his needs.
Through Fortune’s Returning Citizen Stimulus initiative, which aims to support formerly incarcerated individuals who did not receive federal stimulus money, Raymond received a $2,750 check to support his reentry. He has used this check to buy blankets, winter clothes, metrocards, and other essential items.
Recently, Raymond moved to The Castle, our supportive housing unit in West Harlem. With a safe home and unwavering support system, he is turning his life around. He has formed close bonds with staff and fellow residents. In the future, he hopes to finish school and help others.