I recently went on a trip with my Oklahoma Agriculture Leadership class to a garden in Enid. I was very impressed with what I saw and heard and thought it would be a story my fellow Oklahomans would appreciate. So I went back a few weeks later and am glad I did. I think you will be too.
It’s such an uplifting story and one that has a lesson to learn about giving others a second chance. They work closely with the prison in Enid to help some of the inmates who are getting ready to be released. I’ve done other stories about former inmates and the problems they have right after being released and it’s sad the issues they have with just the basics in life…a job and shelter. One gentleman who was released a couple of years ago, couldn’t find a place to live near where he was finally able to get a job because of the city ordinances in place. It had to do with the fact that if you have a prison record, you can’t live within a certain distance near schools, churches, or parks. Well in the town he was trying to move to, schools, churches, and parks were everywhere so he couldn’t get a house or an apartment. He didn’t have a car so he couldn’t live too far from his place of employment. Luckily, he had a wonderful employer who just happened to have a vacant room on the second floor of her business where he could live. The place had a shower and a kitchenette so it was like a mini apartment within walking distance of work. She understood what it means to give a second chance to someone who has made mistakes and atoned for them.
Now I realize the ordinances in that town were put in place to protect people but sometimes you can go a little bit too far in doing so because of fear. Fear that a person with a not so reputable reputation might do harm to your neighborhood. But we shouldn’t let fear cause someone else to be harmed, namely the person who can’t find a place to live and who just wants to be able to contribute to society. They’ve learned their lesson and done their time and are now ready to step up to the plate and be a good, law-abiding citizen. Will there be some who become re-incarcerated? Sure, but is that because they weren’t able to change or is it because they haven’t been given a chance by society to prove they’ve changed. I believe many times its because they aren’t given that chance so all they’ve got is their old life and old way of doing things. They need a helping hand.
The Oklahoma Department of CareerTech has a program called Skills Centers that teach prisoners skills they can use to help them get and hold a job once they re-enter society. It’s a wonderful program that helps inmates stay out of prison and become that law-abiding, tax-paying citizen we all want them to be. Unfortunately, they have the same problem all other inmates have with one exception…Skills Center employees help them locate jobs and acquire clothing appropriate for them to work and make them job ready. They do what they can to make sure that when an inmate is ready to be released, they’re able to make it on their own. The man in my story above was one such person. He was so ready to prove himself and make it on his own. And he has become good at his job and is making the situation work and becoming the citizen we can be proud of. His employer is extremely happy with him and will do whatever she can to help him out.
Just like Kate who you will meet in my story. She has a heart for those who need a second chance and hopefully my video will inspire you to also give someone who has had problems in their past a second chance at a better life.