Today marks five months that I have been out of jail. The transition has been difficult and the bottom line is that without Dismas House I wouldn’t be here today.
Growing up, my family only ate together at the holidays. Usually, we ate alone in our bedrooms. Our lives felt separate. Here the staff, the volunteers and cooks are so unselfish. They are all people who want to be here; they want to be with me night after night. It is such a surprise.
Living here provides structure. Meeting my obligations and staying at the house allows me to take a slow practical approach to returning to society. For me, living alone too soon would be risky; too many changes would mean failure. Here I remain grounded. Meeting students from other countries is what I look forward to the most. I want to be a good example. One student has become a close friend. He lives in Japan now so we write letters to share the details of our lives. We look forward to seeing one another again someday. Learning to work with others, work out problems and develop people skills is a big part of our community.
In jail you only interact with people who have problems; few people are interested in who you are or what you need. The longer that you are incarcerated the more you begin to feel negative and unworthy and no longer see what is good about yourself. Leaving that negative, hurtful place and coming to a household where we are told we deserve a second chance is amazing.
When Dismas Staff came to the Newport prison to meet with me it provided me with so much hope. The possibility of a second chance
I’ve been here a long time. Staying three to six months was part of my plan even before moving to the house. The satellite houses make it possible to move forward. It’s a perfect part of the 3 steps to going out on my own. Dismas Satelite and my own apartment.
My favorite moments:
- The Rice High School students coming to cook-powerful.
- When all residents united and had a cleaning night.
- Giving a resident a room overhaul.
- Helping to run the grill with Cashman.
I felt proud and funny at the same time. He is someone I will always know. Hearing him say that he admired me for my hard work and determination was a moment I’ll never forget.
- Horseback riding
- Barbecue at Carol’s House
- Playing Scatergories on the ride back from camping
- Meeting an Opera singer From Austria at dinner and then hearing him sing
- Bike rides with Tomaki, Rebecca and Bill
- Dressing up in silly costumes and having a laugh with one of the exchange students on his last night at Dismas House