News Sheet | Issue 2

Crossroads Takes on Unemployment Hurdle

One of the big factors to recidivism is economic hardships. This can come in different forms such as poverty, unemployment and poor living conditions. For the majority of formerly incarcerated people in the US, these experiences go hand in hand.

“The unemployment rate of formerly incarcerated people in the US is over 27% – higher than the total US unemployment rate during any historical period, including the Great Depression” (www.prisonpolicy.org). Women in particular, encounter barriers to securing employment, especially immediately following release. Women who are without jobs but wish to work soon realize that lack of skills prevent them from accomplishing this goal. A limited employment base is another challenge that they encounter when looking for work.

Recognizing the employment challenge, Crossroads, Inc. created Turning Point Staffing Services (TPSS), an employment readiness program. TPSS addresses core competencies integral to women’s successful reentry.

TPSS teaches women computer and financial literacy, job readiness, and provides a venue to practice soft skills such as healthy communication and job interviewing. The results are well-rounded job seekers who meet the minimum requirement for most entry level jobs.

Crossroads women understand that looking for a job means having the foresight to play the long game, as explained in the acronym ABC: Any job, a Better job and then a Career. Many Crossroads women start with entry level jobs and discover their passion along the way. Fueled by that passion, they build careers in various industries after or while pursuing higher education.

It has been said that you educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a women; you educate a generation. It is not just the women but their families and our communities that will reap the positive effects.

 

Reference:

Lucius Couloute and Daniel Kopf.
https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/outofwork.html. July 2018

Employee Focus:

Jackie White, Program Director

Jackie White has been with Crossroads, Inc. for 13 years. As Program Director, she has played a significant role in establishing and implementing Turning Point Staffing Services (TPSS) and its core competencies of Employment Readiness and Life Skills. Jackie works closely with the women of Crossroads, Inc and is an integral part of our success and an inspiration.

Jackie answered a few questions during a brief sit-down session so we can all get to know more about her.

1. What makes your work rewarding?

…when the women become one with the community. At that point, they are making doctors’ appointments and checking their bus books to figure out how to get from point A to point B on time. When I see them using computers and cell phones to retrieve information and become employed, I jump for joy. After mastering these milestones, I know that their level of confidence is through the roof and that they are capable of accomplishing any and everything.

2. Why is it important that women are given a second (third/etc) chance?

Well from what I’ve been told, this country was built on do-overs/second chances. We all make mistakes and I believe we all should have the opportunity to try again until we get it right. I definitely needed those chances… More importantly why should it be different for any of us who have been to prison?

3. Do you consider working with the women of Crossroads as a calling? Why or why not?

I’m not sure… Prior to employment at Crossroads, Inc., I’d made the decision to change my behaviors – meaning addressing my addictions while at Crossroads. After my six-month program, I found that I wanted/needed to become self-sufficient. I was 47 years old, working a minimum wage job and with a GED in my pocket. Based on my history and experiences, I consciously selected “Substance Abuse Counseling” as my career goal thinking that that was what I knew best. From the start, employment at Crossroads, Inc. was a selfish, lifesaving move for me… Today, I share with the women of Crossroads a wealth of experiences and education. Maybe it is or was a calling, I’m still not sure.

4. Pre-COVID, you would bring some of the women and have talks with students at the local schools. Please explain how that is done and what impact you have seen.

To make a long story short after doing a speaking engagement; I received a call from a teacher at one of the local high schools who was in the audience. She expressed her concerns about her students using drugs and their flippant attitudes on the subject. She asked if I would be interested in speaking to her class; if she could get clearance. I said yes, while I waited for conformation; I saw this as win-win opportunity for all concerned. I thought, I’ll bring our women who know a lot about drug use and addictions. I thought this would be a great opportunity for them to be of service to the community, have their voices heard, and become a part of issues that many of them could relate to. We started out speaking to one classroom of students for about an hour… from there it was an all-day speaking engagement in front of 10th, 11th, and 12th graders, teachers included…. In no way was this scared straight kind of talk… it was an evidence-based conversation that erected from our personal experiences that landed us in prison… with a Q&A discussion at the end.

The rewarding part of this is that I live locally and run into these students from time to time. Many of them stop me just to say hi, thank you, and or that they remember me. At the beginning of 2020 just before the 1st COVID lock-down; I was sitting next to a young lady in the nail shop who kept staring at me; when she finally remembered where she knew me from she blurted out I know who you are you spoke at my high school. She went on to tell me that she was home visiting from college, that she was the 1st in her family to go to college, and that her parents were so proud of her. Lastly and surely not least, she informed me that she had tried drugs with friends several times. She confessed that she saw herself changing and our words and experiences began to haunt her – so she got it together. I asked her what happen to her friends she said that they continued to use drugs but were alright…we left it at that.

5. What other projects do you or did you have with schools or businesses that helped boost community engagement? 

On one of our speaking engagements, I notice a couple of formal dresses in the corner of teacher class. I asked what they were for and she informed me that many of the kid’s parents could not afford to buy winter formal dress, prom dress etc. and or the accessories. I told her that Crossroads receives a lot of donations that are not always suitable for our women. I made a commitment with the teacher to collect all formal wear, dress shoes, and jewelry for the girl’s formal events and bring them to the high schools. This project went well until COVID stopped all movement. Through the years we/Crossroads have received many letters thanking us for coming to speak and letting us know how much they appreciated the formal wear. A lot of these letters brought tears to my eyes…

What Is Recidivism?

Oxford Dictionaries: “It is the tendency of a convicted person to reoffend.”

6 Reasons To Tell Your Friends About Crossroads Today

Federal and state governing bodies have departments that address a majority of our social, environmental and economic challenges. For everything else, we have nonprofits. While governmental committees offer to serve some of the more common or obvious issues in society, there are many more that are overlooked. Nonprofits take on the task of creating programs that seek out and address the gaps in services.

But as nonprofits address the needs in the community, they address their need of being sustainable. Donations from private individuals and corporations play a vital role in aiding the nonprofits accomplish their mission. Oftentimes public entities are able to contract with a nonprofit to provide necessary services. However, rarely does a contract cover all the expenses for a service. Volunteerism and fundraising activities are additional avenues to generate funding and strengthen bonds within the community.

In California, many questions and initiatives focus on issues of incarceration. However, questions need to extend to after incarceration and re-entry. For almost 50 years, Crossroads, Inc. has been assisting women transition successfully from prison to independence.

Crossroads asks for your help in spreading awareness about the work they do and what the women accomplish. Here are six reasons to tell your friends:

1. Change lives: While we can consider changing our lives as our responsibility, we become a blessing when we’re able to change someone else’s.  Each of our small acts, collectively, can cause a ripple effect. The more people become invested in our cause, the bigger the impact will be. Sending this to several people in your circle of influence is a great way to begin this journey of helping the women of Crossroads.

2. It takes a village… Crossroads takes the lead in successful reentry into the community for women. The Residential Program guides the women in how to navigate life after incarceration. Oftentimes it is the help of the community via volunteering, fundraising or donation that makes a lasting impression for the women. Sending this to several people in your circle of influence will make it easier for you and your friends to heed the call for support.

3. Purpose: Purpose can change as life changes. This may happen during the times when we feel we have the time, the resources or the energy to live out our purpose. By sharing this with our friends, we may be giving them the opportunity to do the same. When we all feel like what we are doing is worthwhile, it creates inside us a feeling of being in synch with a greater cause than ourselves. When this happens, it can lead to contentment, peace and happiness. It can be the much-needed transformation we have been seeking.

4. Women’s empowerment: When women succeed, our communities are more safe, secure and prosperous. 

5. Be an advocate. Believe in the work of Crossroads, Inc by sharing information with others.

6. Believe in second chances. Crossroads believes that giving a woman another chance provides dignity and allows them to achieve their potential as contributing members in the community. 

Journey with us. Creating a positive change in one woman’s life also brings positive change to her family and the community.

Shawn’s Story: Change

I spent 27 years in prison behind many bad decisions but I am a different person today through my thoughts, hard work, and many self-help groups. It took me at least 15 years to reach a point that I wanted to put that work in. 

My thoughts had to change from “I am here and never going home” to wanting to become a better person that could help others through my experiences. I had the incentive to work hard and take these powerful self-help groups. To not be lazy. To put in the work that would make me much more caring, compassionate, and motivated. Not only to participate but put the information to work in order to help myself. Realize that I have to change  in order to progress. 

Through Narcotics Anonymous (NA), I learned that recovery is an everyday process. In codependence class, I learned that one’s thoughts and needs must focus on self first. You can’t help others if you need help yourself. Through parenting, I realized that one needs that relationship to be nurturing and caring. Through conflict resolution I learned that there were other non-violent ways (to) settle misunderstandings.  

Through all these different groups, much hard work and diligence, I stand before you a new person who understands and works hard to grow as that newer, better person.

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