When a client graduates from our residential reentry program, we take some time to sit with them for an exit interview. Although we spend lots of times with each individual while they are in the program, we also find it’s important to give them an opportunity to reflect on their achievements and talk about the apprehensions for their future as a returning citizens as well as celebrate their accomplishments.
Recently, we were able to do an exit interview with *Mr. Ryan Johnson. He entered our residential reentry program in March 2016 coming from the Bureau of Prisons. His struggles began when he allowed himself to become involved in a lifestyle where he was taking risky actions that he knew had the potential to kill him. Eventually, and perhaps even luckily, Mr. Johnson was incarcerated because of drugs and hanging around the wrong crowd. While serving his prison sentence, Mr. Johnson missed out on college scholarships for football, and even the opportunity to see other family members successfully graduate.
When he arrived at Riverside House, he stated that he wasn’t really sure about what to expect, but he did have high hopes. As Mr. Johnson continued to walk by faith, and not by sight, he came to employment department everyday in hopes of reaching his goal of becoming employed. Mr. Johnson started to get a little discouraged because things were not opening up as quickly as he anticipated, but through encouragement of the Riverside House staff he never gave up. As a result, he obtained employment at a construction site making $9.00 an hour and soon thereafter he landed a new job at a restaurant making $10.00 hour.
While this accomplishment may seem mundane, for Mr. Johnson and many like him, employment provides an incredible boost in self-esteem and overall satisfaction for returning citizens. During the exit interview, Mr. Johnson shared that before he came to Riverside House he never worked before, but the fact that he was able to overcome that by landing and keeping a steady job has caused him to be extremely happy. Through his efforts, he was recently promoted to a new position, which pays him $12.00 an hour.
We are proud to say that Mr. Johnson was released in December 2016 with steady employment, housing, and the self-esteem that will help him to be successful in his transition from prison back into the community.
*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual.