Ashley was a participant of LMM’s Chopping for Change (C4C) program and currently works for LMM’s Housing and Shelter program. Her hobbies include photography and eating steak, her favorite food.
At first, Ashley was unsure about joining C4C: “I was so hesitant and so reluctant”, but the program had a positive impact on her. “It was probably the best experience I’ve ever had in my entire life. I’m so grateful for the program. It gives you employable skills…and I really do think that gave me a leg up.” The therapeutic aspect of C4C was especially crucial for her growth too. “I needed to let a lot of stuff go, I needed to talk about a lot of stuff that has happened to me…And I think that without [the therapeutic aspect], I don’t think I would be able to be this person today.”
“[C4C] was probably the best experience I’ve ever had in my entire life. I’m so grateful for the program. It gives you employable skills…and I really do think that gave me a leg up.”
After being released from prison, Ashley described how difficult it was readjusting in the world. “At first, it was really, really hard, it was a huge adjustment…it was dark for a while, spiritually, and mentally, everything was just so draining.” She went on to add that “and then, on top of trying to find a job, find housing and [dealing with] kids and you don’t want to fail. I think that’s the biggest thing ….you’re afraid of failing.”
The search, especially to find housing, can be such a tremendous challenge. Ashley shared “it’s just so defeating and it’s almost like, why keep trying? You know, why keep trying?”
It took Ashley almost twelve months to find long term and safe housing. Research shows that the “rate of homelessness among ex-prisoners was four to six times higher than the rate of homelessness in the general population” (Stojkovic 2017). In addition to being time consuming, the process is physically, mentally, and spiritually draining.
Ashley’s determination, generosity, and kindness as she continues on the long road to continue to overcome these re-entry barriers is truly inspirational.