Uplifting the Fortune Community

Uplifting the Fortune Community


Jamie joined Fortune’s staff in 2021 as a Case Manager for the RISE program. Now, she’s taken on the role of Team Lead Transition Coordinator, offering support to both participants and other staff members. Since joining the team, she has become an integral part of the community, building strong relationships with participants and offering critical support whenever needed.    

Jamie’s initial interest in Fortune stems back to her undergraduate experience where she was introduced to service-learning, a progressive educational approach combining academics and community service. Through this experience, Jamie worked at an organization that offered internships for people impacted by the criminal legal system.  

College expanded my worldview a lot, and I wanted to use whatever privilege and education I had to do something good and contribute to society. I wanted to work with people with legal system involvement, but I didn’t have much professional experience or life experience. I had to learn a lot to get here.” 

The RISE Program, or Reentry for Individual Success and Elevation, provides skill-building and discharge preparation services for individuals incarcerated on Rikers Island, and offers continued support following their release. Fortune staff help prepare individuals pre-release by assisting with applications for identification documents in advance, and offering counseling, professional development courses, relapse prevention treatment and other services conducted at the jail facilities.  

Upon first connecting with individuals on Rikers Island, Jamie assists them in coming up with a plan for release. She identifies their plans and expectations for housing, employment, mental health treatment and transportation upon release. She emphasized the importance of educating participants and managing their expectations before they arrive at Fortune.  

“I’ve found that a lack of information is the biggest need when people come to us. People don’t know what is available to them, but if they have all the information, they can make the best decisions for themselves about what they need. Knowledge is power, so it’s important for me to keep participants informed.” 

RISE is a year-long program, although individuals can ask to extend the program up to six months if further assistance is needed. Case managers and housing specialists assist participants in finding housing and connecting them with Fortune’s programs, including Employment Services, mental health services at the Better Living Center (BLC) and recovery services. 

“I provide clients with all the information I can about housing, employment and any other services they ask about. Of course we provide assistance, but another goal is walking the participants until they don’t need us anymore. I try to frame our conversations not through what I can do for them, but what we can do together.”

Working at Fortune, Jamie has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience, and she has built strong connections with community members. Since joining the team three years ago, she has witnessed profound success stories that continue to fuel her passion for this work. 

Jamie shared a story about her first client, who she still thinks of fondly. He recognized that she was new, and gave her grace and understanding as she navigated her new role. Eventually, he stopped coming to Fortune, though she didn’t know what happened to him.  

“He came back a year or so later, and he was doing so well,” Jamie shared. “He was thankful for what we did, and I kept reminding him that he put in the work and figured things out. I was only there to support him and walk with him on his journey. It was heartwarming to see that he was in a much better place after being with Fortune for so many years. Those are the moments that stand out to me.”

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