Bailey, our summer Development Intern, sat down with Kimberly Gray, Thrive DC’s Re-entry Program Manager, and a recent graduate of the New Directions program. The New Directions Re-entry Program is designed to assist individuals who have been recently incarcerated have support on the road to becoming successful returning citizens.
Washington DC has the highest prison population in the world, with an incarceration rate of every 1,153 per 100,000. An arrest of any sort, at any point in one’s life serves as a barrier to finding housing and employment. In fact, having a criminal record reduces the likelihood of receiving a job callback or offer by 50 percent.
Studies show that returning citizens face the highest probability of being unemployed in their first two years after release. This suggests that pre- and post-release employment services are essential to reducing recidivism and providing returning citizens with a greater opportunity to successfully integrate back into society.
Thrive DC is dedicated to equipping returning citizens with the tools they need to succeed. We are going to be talking about how our New Directions program is designed to provide our clients with the tools to prosper.
Conversation with Kim, Re-entry Program Manager:
What is our New Directions program?
The New Directions program is a program that works with returning citizen women. We assist them in gaining customer service certification and additional life skills. This is a 6 week program for women who are currently reentering back into society.
What is your favorite part of leading this program?
Seeing the transition in the women, the difference between how they are coming into the program and how they are when they leave-- their image, their personality, the way they speak, and even how they dress. My favorite part of this transition is the self-discovery, they really get to discover who they are.
Is there something you wish the general population knew about individuals who are re-entering into society?
They have hearts. A lot of these individuals want to win in life, sometimes they just have taken the wrong routes. When you give them the right tools, they embrace them. They have hearts, they are people.
Conversation with a recent New Directions graduate:
What did this program mean to you?
The program really meant a lot to me. I got my customer service certification and I found out who I was. We did self-discovery which showed us we are worth it. We realized our flaws and negative thoughts. When I first came to class I was really shy and didn’t talk at all, but Ms. Gray got me to open up. I really appreciate her because if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have found out who I am. We always talked about “if you get to the little girl, you can bring out the woman.”
I learned that image means everything. If you look a certain way, you will feel a certain way. I started dressing up everyday and after this class I feel like I can do anything. I know I am going to succeed in life.
What part of this program did you enjoy the most?
Even though I did get my customer service certification, I really enjoyed the self-discovery.
Is there something you wish all women coming out of incarceration knew?
I wish every woman out there would know that they are worth it and that they can do it. I would love to work with young females, to let them know that this world is a cruel world but we have to stay positive. If you have a plan, you will succeed. What Ms. Gray did for me made me realize I can go out and do the same for others. I am the oldest of eleven and I have a daughter, and I just want my daughter to know that no matter what she goes through in life she will make it and she will succeed.
Visit our webpage to learn more about how you can get involved and donate to keep our programs accessible to the community. Contact Kimberly Gray at (202) 503-1531 or firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to join New Directions.
Written by Bailey, Development Intern at Thrive DC
Bailey is a senior at Belmont University where she is majoring in Global Leadership Studies with a minor in Social Justice. As a member of the Belmont Softball team, Bailey is a representative of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) leadership team. Upon graduation, Bailey plans to serve in a community abroad as a part of the Lumos Travel Award.