Lana was a participant of the Chopping for Change (C4C) program and most recently worked as an Employment Specialist at LMM. In August 2021, she accepted a job at Towards Employment as their Staffing Specialist. In her free time, Lana enjoys reading, driving her kids, developing her side businesses, and mentoring other individuals.
Lana highlighted the importance of participating in the Chopping for Change program while incarcerated: “Coming to Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry for the C4C program helped me feel like a human again.”
She says the C4C program really dives deep: “They want to help bring out the best in you. And they start from the root cause, you have to start from the root cause of whatever it is that got you there in the first place. Why did you make these decisions? What has been embedded in your mind? How were you raised?…I think it’s beautiful because they help so many people.”
Lana has faced many reentry barriers especially finding long term, stable housing. The search for housing for Lana was particularly frustrating and exhausting.
“The C4C program is so wonderful. Because they give people who society looks down on or kind of just disregards, and gives them an opportunity to grow, to do better. Has it changed my life? I honestly have to say it did.”
With a criminal background and an eviction on her record, Lana described how the odds were stacked against her in order to be able to find a long term, stable, and safe place to live. “There were a lot of things that were going against me…no one wants to rent to someone who has a criminal background.”
In her search for housing, she described the experience as “every place gave me a no. So I would have to say I faced maybe 15 to 20 no’s, if not more, and half of those included application fees. You know, $25 here, or $30 there, or $40 here, $50.”
Through this difficult journey, she remained hopeful and turned to her inner faith and belief in a higher power of God. “So I always said, even when I was hurting, I’m going to get a place, I’m going to find a place, all these no’s, I don’t care, even though it did hurt because I’m human. So the journey was exhausting. But at the same time, I went through all that and now, you know, when I got blessed with the place, when I finally got that, yes, it made me appreciate it even more, because it took a year to get that yes.”
After a year of trying to find housing, Lana has secured long term, stable, and safe housing for herself. The journey to find housing for those with a criminal background is incredibly challenging and exhausting in all forms. Now, she turns to help others in a similar situation.
Lana has embraced a mentorship role to help other women in similar situations that she once faced and still does face. This mentorship role means a lot to her after going through the C4C program. “The C4C program is so wonderful. Because they give people who society looks down on or kind of just disregards, and gives them an opportunity to grow, to do better. Has it changed my life? I honestly have to say it did.”
Lana will continue to be a mentor for others in her life and continue to be an advocate for those facing similar situations like herself. We are extremely grateful for Lana and her commitment to helping those who follow behind her.