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Success Stories

David Walls

David Walls
On finding and keeping a job after being released from incarceration
April 27, 2015 

David Walls was released from incarceration in 2008. He firmly accepts responsibility for the actions that led to that incarceration. Yet, at the time of his release he couldn’t help but feel angry and frustrated. Before his incarceration he’d had a very good job but now, here he was 36 years old and trying to get a job as an ex-felon. This happened during very difficult economic times, when almost everyone was having difficulty finding work.

David was lucky that his parents took him in. He stayed with them for 18 months. He stayed with them even after he had found a job; but he had a teenage son, living elsewhere with his mother. David wanted to support that son and become a role model for him. 

He found New River Community Action’s Virginia Cares project there to help him, as was the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services. He had also been part of a Work Release program when in jail. That was helpful too. At the time of his release he became associated with a church, which was, and continues to be, a source of comfort and support. 

After his release, he started hitting the streets every day, hundreds of times, looking and looking for a job, any job. He finally found a customer service job in Roanoke. He got the position despite being truthful about his history. He performed well in his work. However, after being on the job a month, company corporate headquarters changed its policy regarding employing former felons, and he was dismissed. 

He started once again looking for work. Meanwhile, before, during and after the time he was in jail, he accumulated bills. These bills continued to pile up and were a source of continuing worry to him. 

He found out that it was easier to find a job when you already had a job; so, over a period of a year and a half, he took a number of part-time jobs -- any jobs -- working more than one job at a time when the work was available. One of his part-time jobs was with Virginia Cares. In 2010, to his relief, he was able to get an apartment of his own. New River Community Action helped him with the rental deposit and the first month’s rent. 

He had been sentenced to seven years probation; however, his progress was consistent and satisfactory, so he was released from probation after three and a half years. That was also a relief. 

David continued with part-time work until 2012 when he found a full-time job in a warehouse. It was an entry level position with no prospect for moving up, so he continued looking for a different job. 

In 2013 he obtained work at a production company. There the people were sympathetic; and he was promoted in 60 days to a Production Associate position as Logistics Clerk. Only the Human Resources office knew about his felony. Still someone found out about him and shared that information with others. Fortunately, this time Human Resources were supportive, and he did not lose his job. That makes him appreciate it even more. He now supports himself and his son and is working to have a closer relationship with his son. Currently he is a Supervisor in the production facility with 22 people reporting to him. 

Recently he received an even better job offer, which also has a better salary. However, he’s working for the company that gave him a chance and has been good to him; so he decided that he prefers to stay with them. He does have a job on the side as a nutritional and personal physical trainer for between three and eight people at a time. Feeling he is being helpful to others is a source of satisfaction. 

The fact that some people continue to judge him despite everything bothers him; however, he knows he is a good person, and not everyone is going to judge him. 

David has further educational aspirations. He had started college, but now wants to complete his degree in the field of Marketing. He wants to meet a nice lady. His father died recently, and he wants to do more to look after his Mom. He also wants to develop closer friends at his church.

Below are reflections of David Wall on April 2, 2015

  • - Take responsibility for my actions and the subsequent consequences.
  • - Apologize to those who I affected and recognize their feelings.
- Develop positive coping skills and mechanisms to deal with life situations.
- Take ownership of my life. Work each day to develop and improve a better situation for me and my family. 
- Realize God is in control, and he will never let me down. As people will; God will not.
- Develop selflessness towards helping others and giving back... so one day I can help someone in a similar position to myself 10 years ago. 
- Realize that I'm a good person who made mistakes but has made the necessary changes. 
- Respect those person’s feelings that can't accept my errors. 
- Look forward to my bright future. 
- All those feelings were brought about by those that have helped me these past 10 years: My family, my church family, Virginia Cares, New River Community Action, the Department of Rehabilitative Services.

Leroy

Leroy
Moving Forward and Following Through
2016

On December 27, 2012 during a drug deal in Philadelphia, PA, Leroy was shot and rendered paralyzed. At the time he was heavily addicted to drugs including meth, cocaine, PCP and ecstasy. Not only had he been buying and using but he began to manufacture meth in the basement of his home. On October 30, 2013, Leroy’s wife took their three small children and left him in order to create a safe home for her children. Due to the extent of his addiction, Leroy can now admit, that he had no concern for anyone but himself and how to feed his addiction day to day.
On November 06, 2013 law enforcement conducted a drug raid of Leroy’s home and arrested him on scene. After serving nine months in jail, Leroy was offered an alternative to jail and given an opportunity to improve his quality of life and the life of those surrounding him including his wife and children. On December 04, 2014 Leroy became the first participant in the Pulaski County Adult Drug Court program. The Pulaski County Adult Drug Court is a program that lasts anywhere from 12-24 months depending on the individual progress of the participant. Each participant will move through 4 phases of rehabilitation and counseling. Leroy is currently in the last phase of this program which includes securing employment.

After entering the Pulaski County Adult Drug Court Program, Leroy was given the opportunity by New River Community Action to complete his community service at the Montgomery County New River Community Action office. While completing his community service Leroy was enrolled in the VA Cares program. Upon enrollment Leroy was required to actively participate in the program and complete tasks such as peer support groups, job readiness classes and other program requirements. Due to Leroy being homeless, VA Cares referred him to the NRCA Homeless and Housing Programs where he was assigned to the Rapid Rehousing team and able to secure permanent housing. In addition to securing permanent housing, NRCA staff were able to coordinate with Fieldstone United Methodist Church/Spy Group to make updates to the property to ensure Leroy would have appropriate wheel chair accessibility.

Upon working toward his community service completion, Leroy was given the opportunity to join NRCA AmeriCorp in June of 2015. During his time with AmeriCorp, Leroy has been assisting at the Pulaski County NRCA location. Along with his work with AmeriCorp, Leroy has been making quest speaker appearance for multiple organizations in the New River Valley as well as local churches. Being able to tell his story and inspire others is a passion for Leroy and he will continue on as long as he is able.

Presently, Leroy is still working full time through NRCA as the Radford area Community Service Worker/Housing Counselor. He continues to guest speak with many organizations and plans to speak at an upcoming VA Cares Peer Support Group. VA Cares was the first program that assisted Leroy to put his life back together therefore he plans to maintain a close relationship with the VA Cares program to help assist others in the same situation he was once in. Leroy works daily to re-establish his relationship with his family and establish healthy relationships in the community in order to one day be a mentor for other individuals like himself. Leroy would like to give credit and show his appreciation to Pastor Gary Hash of Jubilee Christian Center for providing Divine guidance and being a supporting mentor throughout his recovery. He believes Pastor Hash to be his anchor.

Bentley

Bentley
Team Work - A Drug Court Success
2017

The New River Valley Reentry Council, New River Community Action and Virginia CARES would like to thank Bently for guest speaking at our November Peer Support Group. Bentley is the first drug court participant in Montgomery County and the story of how he got there is an inspiration for all.

Bentley came from a home where both parents worked to support the family. Bentley recalls his father not being there a lot due to father having to work out of town frequently. Bentley is the eldest of 3 children and with both parents working had to help take care of younger siblings. Bentley quickly went from role of eleven year old boy to caregiver. Bentley explains this change in roles is what kick started his addiction to substances. Bentley left home first chance he got attempting to find himself. Bentley felt this was the only way he would truly be able to get in touch with his feelings.

Bentley planned a trip home and wanted to discuss his feelings with his family, but discovered his family was living a different life. A turning point for Bentley came when Bentley and his mother sat down to talk and his mother stated "You are our only hope for a normal child." Bentley did not want to disappoint his parents at this time and share that he was gay. Bentley decided he would hide his feelings away and not disappoint his parents. Bentley tried to choose a life his parents would approve of and chose to get married and found suitable employment to support his wife.

Bentley became a father to two children and held great jobs and perceived his life to be "normal", or at least his family's perception of "normal". Bentley's "normal" life began to unravel with his separation from his wife and kids. Bentley's life began to spiral and he realized he could not live like this anymore. Bentley's drinking and level of depression increased. Bentley states "I fell into a black hole of depression and misery." Bentley had used drugs recreationally as he emerged into adulthood and was familiar with the escape these drugs provided to his current state. Bentley's alcohol and drug use increased and his life began to plummet. Bentley was no longer able to maintain his job performance or attendance and lost his great job. So to compensate for his loss of income and maintain his drug habit, Bentley began to manufacture and sell illegal drugs to maintain his habit and was eventually caught by law enforcement.

VA CARES met Bentley at his initial intake after his arrest by local law enforcement. Bentley revealed to VA CARES staff his relief of being arrested stating "I can finally breathe and not continue to hide." Bentley reflected on his life revealing "I never really realized how cornered I was until I was being dragged from my home by authorities, this saved my life."

Bentley is currently working to be the person he chooses and not the person his addictions choose for him. Bentley is the first participant of the Montgomery County Drug Court and actively participates in The Bridge Program of New River Valley Community Services. Bentley works closely with 12 Step Fellowship Communities in the New River Valley and enjoys sharing and inspiring others with his experience, strength, and hope in an effort that others may identify with his story. Bentley hopes he is providing hope and inspiration to others when he shares his story as he did when he heard other people's story of addiction and drug use.

While incarcerated, Bentley had no idea what the future held for him, or even if he would have a future outside of prison. Bentley has made progress in his recovery by changing his way of thinking by opening his mind, possessing willingness to change, and being honest with self and others. At the beginning of Bentley's recovery he was told all he would have to change is everything and Bentley states "It will be an ongoing process throughout the rest of my life. But it is a journey I am grateful to be traveling today."
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For communities, the return of released prisoners potentially poses problems for public safety and challenges for reintegrating people into society. The changes in the composition of returning prisoners outlined in various studies suggest that there is not a single type of reintegration problem. There are multiple offenders returning to communities, including more offenders coming back from their first experience with incarceration, and more offenders returning after a churning (repeat incarceration) experience. Offenders have been out of the community for longer periods and, even though they may have participated in education and training programs, still face challenges regarding reintegration into society. Communities, therefore, face a complicated set of problems related to reintegrating offenders.

The best way to promote public safety and prevent recidivism is to provide resources and guidance to individuals being released back into the community. The New River Valley Reentry Council was created to be a contributor to the goal of providing needed information, resources, and guidance in order to further that mission.
You're still in prison if you do nothing better in freedom.
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The New River Reentry Council is part of the Virginia Community Reentry Approach (VCRA).

Vision
A Commonwealth in which people previously incarcerated access quality services to assist them in becoming productive citizens thus promoting safer communities and stable families.
Mission
The Virginia Community Reentry Approach strengthens public safety through a community based approach to reentry that provides opportunities for people previously incarcerated, that supports families and that reduces recidivism.
Values
  • All people have worth and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect
  • Community collaboration strengthens effectiveness
  • Integrated service delivery is cost effective
  • Stable families support children’s healthy development and future success
  • Safe communities are the best environment in which to live and work
Goals
  • Increase public safety through reduced recidivism
  • Maximize opportunities for people returning to the community after incarceration
  • Support family and community integration for people returning from incarceration