Monica was a participant of LMM’s Chopping for Change (C4C) program and currently drives the delivery trucks for LMM’s Central Kitchen. Outside of work, she enjoys camping and taking walks in nature.
The Chopping for Change program was a powerful experience for Monica. The support from LMM staff was extremely helpful for Monica on the most difficult days. “Each and every one of them will reach their hand out to you…they’re just there automatically.”
The transition from being incarcerated to being back into society is one full of many challenges and obstacles. Monica shared that LMM’s support after being incarcerated truly helped her. “LMM is there with arms wide open.”
“It means a lot for me to work [at LMM] now because I get to see those girls climbing up that ladder, just like I did. You know, I was once down there, and thought it was the end and nothing would get any better. And now I can sit and watch somebody else’s life change. And I love it. If I could help in any way I can, then I want to.”
That being said, Monica originally had different work plans after being released from prison, but LMM was able to hire her and she loves her work. “It means a lot for me to work here now because I get to see those girls climbing up that ladder, just like I did. You know, I was once down there, and thought it was the end and nothing would get any better. And now I can sit and watch somebody else’s life change. And I love it. If I could help in any way I can, then I want to.”
The journey through these barriers to secure long term, safe, and affordable housing is exhausting for those previously incarcerated. “I would just say that getting housing to get [out] on [was] my hardest challenge.” Monica outlined how the housing process wore on her “it’s mentally draining because I’ve worked hard to get where I’m at.”
Studies show that “a staggering 700,000 prisoners are released from federal and state prisons each year (West, Sabol, and Greenman 2010). This transition back to society is fraught with obstacles” (Herbert et al., 2015). Other research demonstrated that there are significant roadblocks that come with having a criminal record that sets an individual even further back from being able to secure stable housing for themself (Herbert et al., 2015).
Monica has a hope for herself as she continues to grow in the future. “I hope someday that I am strong enough to be able to sponsor and mentor other women that have gone down the path that I went down.”
We are so grateful for the presence of Monica in our community!