Fall Newsletter

From Where I Sit...

More often than not, when I arrive at the office in the morning, I notice a handful of people sitting on chairs and planters in front of California First Bank. Their daily coffee and conversation ritual did not disappear in the midst of the pandemic. By adjusting to where they meet, they found a way to continue what was/is important to them despite the pandemic. Each morning I see them brings a smile behind my mask and I am reminded of an Anthony De Mello quote: Nothing has changed but my attitude, therefore, everything has changed.

The pandemic has not slowed Crossroads down, but it has challenged us to be creative in providing services for the women. I’ve often shared that when things get difficult at Crossroads, all I need to do is think of the women and what they are doing, what they have accomplished. Motivation is renewed and I get moving again with new energy.

At the beginning of July, we were finally able to purchase the “after-care” house we had been renting in Pomona for the past 13 years. It will be a new program for Crossroads providing six months of Transitional Housing for women who have completed a six-month residential program. Rather than expanding our current residential program, providing Transitional Housing was the next best step for the women. It will allow up to 8 women another 6 months of housing and meals at no cost to them as they work and continue to save 75% of their earnings. It takes almost six years for a woman to become financially stable. This new component should shorten that time significantly.

These weeks are spent making needed repairs and upgrades in preparation for inspection and approval for addition to our current contract. As restrictions ease, volunteers for various work parties would be most welcome. Please check our website and emails for upcoming dates and requests.

Crossroads, Inc Executive Director | Sr, Terry Dodge

Amazon Smile

You can support Crossroads, Inc. when you shop on Amazon. We receive a percentage of all eligible purchases. Select Crossroads, Inc. as your Amazon Smile charity or go to our website at crossroadswomen.org and follow the link.

Reflections on Wonder Woman

Reel Life…


For almost three months now, I have been facilitating a group with the women using movies such as: Cast Away, The Pursuit of Happyness, Zootopia, Crash, Hidden Figures, RBG, On the Basis of Sex, Yentl, and Wonder Woman.

Sometimes it is difficult to make sense of what is happening in our lives, especially if we don’t have any other experience with which to compare it. The use of movies/media helps to bridge this gap through storylines, character development, interpretations of what is being watched and heard and how it relates to our own personal issues. The in-depth conversations connects us with each other and we realize we are not alone in our struggle.

Wonderful discussions have developed around determination, stereotypes, racism, personal development, perseverance, support, role models … just to name a few topics.

With everything, I ask each woman what is your “take-away” … that one kernel you will remember and why? Here are two Crossroads women’s reflections after watching Wonder Woman – which I used as a final culminating movie to gather our inspirations and musings.

SONJA’S REFLECTIONS

Life fails to be perfect but it is always beautiful. My take away from this particular film was the moment I found I wasn’t alone in my Journey. There is a hero in every single one of us. WE may not know exactly where our Journeys began or where our Journeys may lead us, but we must get on the road to even begin this Journey. So my take is the role I play, how that role is different from everyone else, what makes it stand out in a crowd.

I chose this movie because of the many moments I have experienced the crossroads in my life. The moments where I must make a choice and stand alone in it. Heartfelt choices. Powerful choices. How will my choices affect me or others? Those are the hardest choices we make in life. Many times I gave to much of me. Many times I gave too little of me. Without giving anything to myself, it was like a car running out of gas and the car stops. You can’t simply keep going.

There are moments in our lives where there’s scars then moment of laughter, but once we realize we are at a crossroad we must keep going because those are the most powerful moments … so keep going. (Sonja)

DURLENE’S REFLECTIONS

Right Action. Wonder Woman’s aunt inspired me the most. She inspired me to continue being strong, determined and prepared. Daily I remind myself that strong will, determination, and right action will produce “just rewards.” Her daily training and education of self, reminded me that you must be prepared for life’s journeys, battles, and trials.

Even knowing you can’t foresee the future or always be prepared … you can at least do all you can in preparation to survive it. I’m reminded that life is now. There is no dress rehearsal. And I must meet it head on. I believe in myself. Remain steadfast and forward moving. Stagnation is a poison I must not allow to seep in. I must continue learning, growing, and becoming. And always remember … feelings are not right or wrong … they just are. Live in the now … embrace it. (Durlene)

BOARD HIGHLIGHTS

The Board and I are well and sincerely hope that you and your families are healthy and hopeful. The challenges we all face are daunting at times, but they are life affirming too. We are so grateful to be with you in this beloved community.

Despite the pandemic, the Board has been meeting regularly via Zoom, emails, and texts, and we have done some good work. In July, we said good-bye to a valued Board member, Pat Samuelson, and hello to three new Board members, Pia Gupta, Rachel McDonnell, and Leeann Nabors. We are now thirteen members strong.

On September 26th we will hold a board development retreat, led by Cindi Phallen of Create Possibility. It is wonderful to feel the energy already generated by our new relationship with Cindi. Our goal is to lay a strong foundation for organizational restructuring, so that the mission of providing hope and home for the women of Crossroads is assured. The better organized we are, the better funded our programs will be, and the women will prosper.

SAN FRANCISCO HOUSE

In July, Crossroads took ownership of a third home for our women, the San Francisco House, in Pomona. This purchase will generate additional income for Crossroads by providing transitional housing and support programing for eight women.

FUNDRAISERS & DONATIONS

The Board is currently planning several virtual fundraisers, for the late fall and winter, while developing a long-term strategic plan for funding.

Stay safe, dear friends, Dinny Rasmussen, Board Chair

Welcome

The Crossroads Board of Directors is delighted to welcome three new members to the Board. New members serve for three years and may be elected to a second three-year term. At this time the Board has thirteen members. Each of the new members offers her unique life experiences, training, and talents to us and we will be a richer community because of them.

LEEANN NABORS

Leeann Nabors has over 9 years of experience managing day to day operations of a nonprofit, 501c(3) counseling center in Claremont. She also serves as the Administrative Coordinator for the Claremont Colleges for the OCAC (Office of Consortia Academic Collaboration), facilitating the Justice Education and Data Science Initiatives. Leeann has a strong commitment to under-served, under-represented and marginalized populations.

PIA GUPTA

Pia Gupta is Department Chair and Professor of Finance at California State University Long Beach (CSULB). Pia earned her PhD in Finance from Texas and moved to California in 2006. Her research and teaching interests are in the areas of Corporate Finance and Investments. She joined the board of Crossroads as its mission aligns perfectly with that of the Cal State system, which is to serve the under-served communities. She is also passionate about traveling and enjoys hiking, cooking, and reading.

 

RACHEL MCDONNELL

Rachel McDonnell is a graphic artist and web-designer who specializes in helping non-profit organizations reach their goals. She has been involved in local non-profit marketing and leadership for over 20 years. She is interested in social and criminal justice issues and looks forward to opportunities to assist organizations who help people who were formerly incarcerated. A self-described coffee, book, and twitter addict – she endeavors to put aside computers, tablets and phones for more than 20 minutes a day and is generally unsuccessful.

BERNADETTE:
Perseverance, Hard Work & New Beginnings


I was sentenced to “15 to life with the possibility of parole” in June of 2007. On June 7th 2019 I was released from custody after serving 15 years. I was mandated a program and decided to go to Crossroads, Inc. My priority was to get a job and start saving my money right away. However, the program had other plans for me, plans unknown to me that would benefit me when I was ready to leave.
It took a lot of patience but the women and staff there made sure to always uplift me when I had trying times. Job seeking was horrible for me. It even got a little discouraging. Many jobs denied me because I have tattoos and a criminal background.

My opportunity came when I was offered a job with the DoubleTree Hilton of Claremont. I was so happy and excited I was finally having the opportunity to really work. And let me tell you, it was hard work! Going to work early in the morning and coming home mid-afternoon to go to group was exhausting! But well worth it! I had graduated the program and continued to strive at my job when here comes COVID-19. WOW!!! That was very frustrating.

Once again I felt discouraged. My hours were cut drastically and I was on unemployment. I’ve never been known to just sit around and wait. I’m a determined go-getter so I placed applications everywhere. Even places I knew would run my background. But I didn’t care. I wasn’t going to give up! I received a phone call one day from Foothill Transit asking for an interview. I went and told my story telling them that all I wanted was a chance.

That Chance is what they gave me. I now have not only a job but a career as a professional bus operator.

If it wasn’t for the women and staff at Crossroads I probably would’ve given up. Thank you Crossroads for all you have shown and given me.

Advocacy |Reading & Action

What We Are Reading & Discussing

Follow the links below for insightful information, perspectives and more concerning criminal justice, racial equality and other social justice issues.

Black Lives Matter

The black people I come from were owned and raped by the white people I come from. Who dares to tell me to celebrate them?

 

By Caroline Randall Williams

NASHVILLE — I have rape-colored skin. My light-brown-blackness is a living testament to the rules, the practices, the causes of the Old South.

If there are those who want to remember the legacy of the Confederacy, if they want monuments, well, then, my body is a monument. My skin is a monument.

Dead Confederates are honored all over this country — with cartoonish private statues, solemn public monuments and even in the names of United States Army bases. It fortifies and heartens me to witness the protests against this practice and the growing clamor from serious, nonpartisan public servants to redress it. But there are still those — like President Trump and the Senate majority leader,Mitch McConnell — who cannot understand the difference between rewriting and reframing the past. I say it is not a matter of “airbrushing” history, but of adding a new perspective.

I am a black, Southern woman, and of my immediate white male ancestors, all of them were rapists. My very existence is a relic of slavery and Jim Crow.

According to the rule of hypodescent (the social and legal practice of assigning a genetically mixed-race person to the race with less social power) I am the daughter of two black people, the granddaughter of four black people, the great-granddaughter of eight black people. Go back one more generation and it gets less straightforward, and more sinister. As far as family history has always told, and as modern DNA testing has allowed me to confirm, I am the descendant of black women who were domestic servants and white men who raped their help.

It is an extraordinary truth of my life that I am biologically more than half white, and yet I have no white people in my genealogy in living memory. No. Voluntary. Whiteness. I am more than half white, and none of it was consensual. White Southern men — my ancestors — took what they wanted from women they did not love, over whom they had extraordinary power, and then failed to claim their children.

What is a monument but a standing memory? An artifact to make tangible the truth of the past. My body and blood are a tangible truth of the South and its past. The black people I come from were owned by the white people I come from. The white people I come from fought and died for their Lost Cause. And I ask you now, who dares to tell me to celebrate them? Who dares to ask me to accept their mounted pedestals?

You cannot dismiss me as someone who doesn’t understand. You cannot say it wasn’t my family members who fought and died. My blackness does not put me on the other side of anything. It puts me squarely at the heart of the debate. I don’t just come from the South. I come from Confederates. I’ve got rebel-gray blue blood coursing my veins. My great-grandfather Will was raised with the knowledge that Edmund Pettus was his father. Pettus, the storied Confederate general, the grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, the man for whom Selma’s Bloody Sunday Bridge is named. So I am not an outsider who makes these demands. I am a great-great-granddaughter.

And here I’m called to say that there is much about the South that is precious to me. I do my best teaching and writing here. There is, however, a peculiar model of Southern pride that must now, at long last, be reckoned with.

This is not an ignorant pride but a defiant one. It is a pride that says, “Our history is rich, our causes are justified, our ancestors lie beyond reproach.” It is a pining for greatness, if you will, a wish again for a certain kind of American memory. A monument-worthy memory.

But here’s the thing: Our ancestors don’t deserve your unconditional pride. Yes, I am proud of every one of my black ancestors who survived slavery. They earned that pride, by any decent person’s reckoning. But I am not proud of the white ancestors whom I know, by virtue of my very existence, to be bad actors.

Among the apologists for the Southern cause and for its monuments, there are those who dismiss the hardships of the past. They imagine a world of benevolent masters, and speak with misty eyes of gentility and honor and the land. They deny plantation rape, or explain it away, or question the degree of frequency with which it occurred.

To those people it is my privilege to say, I am proof. I am proof that whatever else the South might have been, or might believe itself to be, it was and is a space whose prosperity and sense of romance and nostalgia were built upon the grievous exploitation of black life.

The dream version of the Old South never existed. Any manufactured monument to that time in that place tells half a truth at best. The ideas and ideals it purports to honor are not real. To those who have embraced these delusions: Now is the time to re-examine your position.

Either you have been blind to a truth that my body’s story forces you to see, or you really do mean to honor the oppressors at the expense of the oppressed, and you must at last acknowledge your emotional investment in a legacy of hate.

Either way, I say the monuments of stone and metal, the monuments of cloth and wood, all the man-made monuments, must come down. I defy any sentimental Southerner to defend our ancestors to me. I am quite literally made of the reasons to strip them of their laurels.

Caroline Randall Williams (@caroranwill) is the author of “Lucy Negro, Redux” and “Soul Food Love,” and a writer in residence at Vanderbilt University.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.

Local Issues

Assembly Bill 1022: Police Use of Force: Duty to Intervene

Existing law requires each law enforcement agency, on or before January 1, 2021, to maintain a policy that provides a minimum standard on the use of force. Existing law requires that policy, among other things, to require that officers report potential excessive force to a superior officer when present and observing another officer using force that the officer believes to be unnecessary, and to require that officers intercede when present and observing another officer using force that is clearly beyond that which is necessary, as specified.
 
This bill would require those law enforcement policies to require those officers to immediately report potential excessive force, and to intercede when present and observing an officer using excessive force. The bill would define excessive force as a level of force that is not reasonably believed to be proportional to the seriousness of the suspected offense or the reasonably perceived level of actual or threatened resistance. The bill would additionally require those policies to, among other things, prohibit retaliation against officers that report violations of law or regulation of another officer to a supervisor, as specified, and to require that an officer who fails to intercede be disciplined in the same manner as the officer who used excessive force. By imposing additional duties on local agencies, this bill would create a state-mandated local program.
 
Existing law requires the law enforcement policies on use of force to include procedures for disclosing public records of peace officers, as specified, and to include procedures for the filing, investigation, and reporting of citizen complaints regarding use of force incidents.
 
This bill would require those law enforcement policies to also include an internet website that makes specified public records of peace officers available in a form searchable by each officer’s name, and to include an internet website that allows members of the public to file citizen complaints, as specified. By imposing additional duties on local agencies, this bill would create a state-mandated local program.
Existing law disqualifies specified persons from being a peace officer, including, among others, any person convicted of a felony.
 
This bill would also disqualify a person from being a peace officer if they have, on three separate occasions, been found by a law enforcement agency that employees them to have either used excessive force or to have failed to intercede as required by a law enforcement agency’s policies.
 
Existing law makes all persons concerned in the commission of a crime, whether they directly commit the act constituting the offense, or aid and abet in its commission, principals in that crime.
This bill would make a peace officer who is present and observes another peace officer using excessive force, and willfully fails to intercede as required by the policy of their employing law enforcement, a principal in any crime committed by the other officer during the use of excessive force. By creating a new crime, this bill would create a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that with regard to certain mandates no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
 
With regard to any other mandates, this bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs so mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.

Statement of Values

Black Lives Matter

We at Crossroads stand with the Black Lives Matter Movement. We acknowledge the unjustifiable loss of life suffered by George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Dominique Clayton, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and countless black human beings living their everyday lives. We further grieve with those communities whose survival is compromised daily by sanctioned violence. It is a lessening of life that is experienced through economic inequity, heightened rates of disease, increased surveillance, and imprisonment. Against these realities, Crossroads has built a community on the firm grounds of gender, racial, and economic justice since 1974. By providing hope and home for formerly incarcerated women, women are given the space to heal and the emotional tools needed to thrive. It is this deep sense of radical compassion that guides our work at Crossroads in pursuing restorative justice for all. We, the Board of Directors of Crossroads, pledge to actively engage in community, state, and federal efforts to affect criminal justice reform.

Share & Join the Conversation!

We don’t know what we don’t know, until we know it, and by then we can no longer ignore it, we must take action.

Resources to engage with Anti Racism

I invite you to join me in exploring this powerful set of resources to better understand the mechanisms of oppressive systems, better understand how to listen for what needs to be done, what needs to be said, and what needs to be understood. Join me in illuminating what actions we as individuals can take to be a part of a lasting change! I have gathered resources and linked to other resource lists that I have received to guide you in deepening your anti racist work. There are COUNTLESS of hands at work here; educators, authors, artists, activists, organizers, leaders, performers, magicians- all critical thinkers, and of course a long lineage of people who actively lived, studied, synthesized, and produced these works as resources for all of us to explore. I want to thank them all and everyone who is standing up now for equality in the rights and dignities for all human beings.

- Kaytee Fink, June 2020

This document is intended to serve as a resource to white people and parents to deepen our anti-racism work. If you haven’t engaged in anti-racism work in the past, start now. Feel free to circulate this document on social media and with your friends, family, and colleagues.”

I have incorporated helpful stages created by Scaffolded Anti Racist Resources to get you started along with several in depth resource lists below.

The First Thing to Do is Connect!

INTROSPECTION:  ACTIVITIES TO ENGAGE YOU
ACTIVATION:

There are really wonderful, ALREADY established, well organized groups in our area to work with in order to keep your motivation for change alive! Participation is key, and nothing can replace your active commitment to partnership! 

Black Lives Matter LA

JOIN SURJ

Showing Up for Racial Justice: SURJ moves white folks into accountable action as part of a multi-racial movement through community organizing, mobilizing, and education. SURJ has regional chapters that hold meetings and events.

Aware LA – White People for BLM

 

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”

― Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon Tweet
Photo by Joan Villalon on Unsplash
OTHER CRIMINAL JUSTICE LINKS

The Marshall Project  | Nonprofit news organization that seeks to create and sustain a sens of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system.

Witness LA | Nonprofit, nonpartisan source of criminal justice news in the public interest.

Civic Research Institute  | Independent publisher of reference and practice materials for professionals in law and government, behavioral health, banking and finance, taxation, education, and the social sciences.

CURB  | Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) is a statewide coalition of 70 grassroots organizations that is reducing the number of people in prisons and jails, shrinking the imprisonment system, and shifting public spending from corrections and policing to human services.

Shop LOCAL/ Support locally BIPOC owned business.

Consider Your Consumer Power! - Donate Your Dollars, Spend Wisely!

(This list was compiled in large part by Shauna Hamilton, and includes resources for farmers markets in the Bay Area)

To support large-scale systemic change, consider supporting the following groups:
To support Black-led groups in creating larger systemic change in their communities, these links will take you to other organizations in Minneapolis:
Websites with links and contact information to work for justice in the case of:
  •  

MOTIVATION: TALKS TO WATCH

CONTINUING EDUCATION RESOURCES:

 

RESOURCES FOR WHITE PARENTS TO RAISE ANTI-RACIST CHILDREN: 

* The following resources were compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker, Alyssa Klein in May 2020. 

Books:

Podcasts:

Articles:

The Conscious Kid: follow them on Instagram and consider signing up for their Patreon

Films and TV series to watch:

  • 13th (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix
  • American Son (Kenny Leon) — Netflix
  • Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975 — Available to rent
  • Blindspotting (Carlos López Estrada) — Hulu with Cinemax or available to rent
  • Clemency (Chinonye Chukwu) — Available to rent
  • Dear White People (Justin Simien) — Netflix
  • Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler) — Available to rent
  • I Am Not Your Negro (James Baldwin doc) — Available to rent or on Kanopy
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) — Hulu
  • Just Mercy (Destin Daniel Cretton) — Available to rent for free in June in the U.S.
  • King In The Wilderness  — HBO
  • See You Yesterday (Stefon Bristol) — Netflix
  • Selma (Ava DuVernay) — Available to rent
  • The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution — Available to rent
  • The Hate U Give (George Tillman Jr.) — Hulu with Cinemax
  • When They See Us (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix

NEED A BREAK? HERE ARE A FEW PLAYLISTS:

LISTEN UP: Podcasts to subscribe to:

RECOMMENDED PODCAST EPISODES:

BOOKS: (Top ten also listed in NY Times Best Seller List as of June 2020):

PURCHASE BOOKS BY BIPOC AUTHORS:

Do you have a local resource or business to share? Show your support and let us know how we can help #BLM in our community.

Our Stay-at-Home Musings

Our Stay-at-Home Musings

“Fears are tangible and may not be eliminated but we do not have to be controlled by them. When we change our thinking, we change the way we see the world around us. We find that as we navigate the obstacles, we uncover opportunity.”

It is trite to say our world has changed and we live in fear.  In March, I was in Ireland at an international meeting with the leaders of my religious community.  Surrounded by the beautiful Irish coastal countryside and with an emerging backdrop of COVID-19, Sisters from Ireland, England, Ghana, Nigeria, and the US discussed the future of our international group.  With the 8-hour time difference, the early mornings allowed me opportunity to follow the news of California from the day before and be in contact with the Crossroads staff before the next day began for them.  Our much anticipated major fundraiser for the year with Martin Sheen and Melissa Fitzgerald reading A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters had to be cancelled.

Since my return … businesses have closed…movement has become more restricted…and we pay attention to numbers like a bookie managing his bets.  Terms like social distancing, essential businesses, shelter-in-place, have become part of our everyday vocabulary.  Empty streets, extended lines outside stores, and face masks are common sites.

The Crossroads office is closed to the public but our work continues as usual and women continue to come asking for a new beginning.  As we try to ease their fears, we also learn from their resilience and determination.  Fears are tangible and may not be eliminated but we do not have to be controlled by them.  When we change our thinking, we change the way we see the world around us.  We find that as we navigate the obstacles, we uncover opportunity. 

Adjusting to coming out of prison into a Covid 19 world

 I have been blessed with my freedom after 19 years of incarceration. I have been in Crossroads since October 2019, (the best decision I made after my release).

In my transition as a free woman, I am thriving with the surmounting support of my mentors, family and wonderful staff. I get to work, which is a huge blessing. I worked for Foothill Transit, which is public transportation. I cleaned the buses and was considered an essential worker.

Then on March 07, 2020 things changed. COVID19 became a true concern to our community. You could feel the fear and confusion encompassing us all. Yet as a family here at Crossroads we have endured the changes to our day to day living. I continued working for about another month for the transit company, being cautious in everything I did. Being mindful of the safety of my Crossroads family and myself.

I am about to complete the program and go live with my birth family. I worry how COVID 19 has affected them too. In my new endeavor I worry how things will affect me, I am stepping into an ever changing world amidst a crisis. I worry about finding employment and my families well being. Yet I know in my heart that this horrible crisis will pass.

Through this madness and confusion, I am amazed at the determination, love and creativity that radiates from family and community to stay connected by today’s technology. We have been using Zoom to continue our weekly meetings at the Reintegration Academy at Pitzer College.  This is amazing to me, how strong their dedication in helping us succeed will go. The love and support that I have received from this community, is heart warming. I feel truly blessed. I thank God for this every day.

—Kiera

“I was overjoyed to have this sort of humanity from people I had just met. It was humbling to learn that the majority of these gifts are donations from the people of the community. I am overwhelmed with emotion from all the community involvement. I never knew people cared so much for their fellow human beings. I can say today that I look at the world in a different way and even in this crisis we can still be supportive to each other. “

While in prison I felt safe because we were away from the world. On Mar 30, 2020 I was released from prison into a pandemic. My first thought was panic. Would I be safe in this new world I was stepping into, or would I need to stay in prison to remain safe?

I was released to Crossroads and to my amazement Crossroads was not only a safe place for me, but the staff and other residents assured me I would be okay. As I watched, the world seemed to be panicking, not being allowed to go about their daily duties such as doing the things that brought them joy in an imperfect world.

For myself I have found my joy right here at the program. My thoughts were that I had not missed out on all the things most people had felt they lost. I did not have those luxuries. It’s the small things here that make it feel like home. We eat dinner together every night, watch movies, and learn from the Reintegration Academy at Pitzer College online. We practice good communication skills with each other that we might have lost along the way. In addition, I was given nice clothes, shoes, hygiene and other necessities that I needed. All of these were put towards this new life of mine.

I was overjoyed to have this sort of humanity from people I had just met. It was humbling to learn that the majority of these gifts are donations from the people of the community. I am overwhelmed with emotion from all the community involvement. I never knew people cared so much for their fellow human beings. I can say today that I look at the world in a different way and even in this crisis we can still be supportive to each other.

—Fonisha

I was recently released from prison after 21 years into a worldwide pandemic. COVID 19.  I found my way into the residential housing of Sister Terry at Crossroads.  Here I was greeted with “Welcome Home”.

The emotions that went through me were laced with anxiety, disbelief, and yes…even hope … along with a healthy dose of fear for COVID and a fear of the unknown.

I had no concept of what I would be walking into at Crossroads. Freedom was going to be like nothing I had ever experienced during this worldwide crisis. The staff and women here are supportive. They are sincere, understanding, and willing to do what is necessary to aid us in our reintegration.  I am grateful that I have this chance to be a productive member in society and reunify with family.

Crossroads helps to further develop the tools needed to make it today and to accomplish the goals I have set for my future. I am thankful to love and live life free.

—Durlene

Letters & Insights | Maria

Mi experiencia hoy dia es saber como aprender a caminar de Nuevo en esta nueva oportunidad,que Dios me dio. Por la gracia de El estoy libre y me siento bien agradecida de empezar una nueva vida, despues de 24 anos de encarcelamiento. Siento que puedo respirar con mucha paz, mi libertad me hace sonreir amablemente con las personas. Me siento con una gran motivacion dentro de mi, me siento contenta. Ahora me encuentro en Crossroads estando aqui me siento segura y motivada, no estoy sola. La Hermana Terry es una de las personas principal de este programa y se asegura de prepararnos, junto con su equipo de consejeros trabajan conmigo y se aseguran de todas mis necesidadespara reintegrarme a la sociedad y ser parte de mi comunidad y reunificarmecon mi familia. Gracias a Dios que cuento con estas personas tan maravillosas, que siempre estan dispuestas a ayudarme. Son una bendicion. Al igual tomando en cuenta esta crisis que estamos sobre llevando COVID19 ellas se preocupan en protegernos. Meda mucha triztesa al ver cuanta gente esta perdiendo su vida a causa de este virus, pero aun me siento segura estando aqui y disfruto mi libertad. Solo le pido a Dios nos siga protegiendo de todo lo malo en esta vida.

 

(My experience today is knowing how to learn to walk again in this new opportunity that God gave me. By the grace of Him I am free and I am very grateful to start a new life after 24 years of incarceration. I feel that I can breathe very peacefully. My freedom makes me smile kindly with people. I feel very motivated within myself and I feel happy. Being in Crossroads I feel safe and motivated, I am not alone. Sister Terry is one of the main people in this program and she makes sure to prepare us, along with her team of counselors, they work with me and make sure of all my needs to reintegrate into society and be part of my community and reunify with my family. Thank God that I have these wonderful people who are always ready to help me. They are a blessing. Likewise, taking into account this crisis COVID19, they are concerned about protecting us. I am very sad to see how many people are losing their lives because of this virus, but I still feel safe being here and I enjoy my freedom. I only ask God to continue protecting us from everything bad in this life.)

—Maria

Letters & Insights | Gloria

I was recently released from prison after serving 27 years on a life sentence. Sister Terry has been writing me letters of support for the past 15 years for my parole board.  She has not given up on me, which in turn made me not want to give up on myself.  I have the hope and desire to succeed and adjust to be a productive member of society.

 Crossroads offers therapy, job skills, anger management, self- esteem groups, domestic violence, grief processing, substance abuse and education to better my life, not only a job, but a career to thrive in life. Crossroads is a Residential Program; there are 5 lifers who also need help transitioning into the world, that I live with.

I was released almost 6 weeks ago. I spent 2 weeks with my family. On March 7, 2020 the world was in a state of emergency crisis with COVID-19, and everything changed for me. I feel the sadness, the pain and feel so much compassion for the world. It is surreal to me, I cannot have visits with my family, work is at a halt, however, I have the support I need with my new family here at Crossroads. Crossroads makes sure I am safe; that I have contact with my family, and still continue to have college courses on-line and groups.

I am thankful that I am here, I am not alone and each and every woman here is dealing with the same situation after doing such a tremendous amount of time. We are learning coping skills, communication skills and Crossroads makes sure that I am still receiving the help that I need. Crossroads makes sure I am safe and first and foremost still working a program to better my life and learn how to transition into the free world.

It is very emotional trying to adjust and then now we have to be quarantined for our safety and others in Crossroads, including staff, they are like a family to me too. With the help of Crossroads I am not going through this alone.

—Gloria

Letters & Insights | Linda

People complain at times that we are on a “lockdown”.  In my experience, this is not a “lockdown” at all!  It merely changes the way I look at things.

I am 66 years old and was released prison in November of 2019 after serving 25 years in Central California Women’s from Facility.  I am an only child, with no children of my own. For most of my life I never learned how to be responsible for anything or anyone, not even myself. Most things were given to me or done for me. Needless to say, I did not know how to live my life on life’s terms. I know without a doubt that I was blessed when I was accepted into the Crossroads program. 

I knew I had to change my ways, my thoughts, behaviors and mostly my attitude. There were major changes to make if I was to make it in this world. See, my entire life, I depended on my mother, and she always came to my rescue. It was the only way she knew how to love me, I know that now. This was most embarrassing. That was, until I met other women in my same predicament that welcomed me and were willing to help. I have learned how to make decisions without the use of alcohol and drugs. Crossroads has helped me get the necessary documents I needed to apply for a part time job at God’s Pantry. 

I was able to work for two weeks before we were asked to self-quarantine. At first they asked for only 14 days, but now those 14 days have come and gone. Now the whole world is on self-quarantined, and mandatory covering on our faces when in public.

People complain at times that we are on a “lockdown”.  In my experience, this is not a “lockdown” at all!  It merely changes the way I look at things. My journey has not been stopped; it’s just taken a turn in another direction. Everyone believes in “something” or “someone” and in my life I choose to believe in God.

During my time of being quarantined I feel extremely grateful to be a part of the Crossroads family. I feel safe, cared for and loved. This Covid 19 has taught me many things, but mostly I’m realizing what’s really important in my life.

A month before I was to be released from prison my mother passed away. She was everything to me as well as my only family.  I never thought I could survive without her. Crossroads has helped me become an independent woman with life skills and how to think for myself. Now I am a woman with goals for the future, and I no longer have to live in the past.

This Covid 19 is a horrible thing and I pray that it will be over soon.  In the meantime, I will be reflecting on what is really important: Living each and every day to the fullest, being mindful of how precious today is, for tomorrow is not promised.  I thank God every day for bringing me to Crossroads and for the love they have shown me, as well as taught how to love myself.

—Linda

Letters & Insights | April 2020

Linda A.

“If there is one thing I have learned from this process is how to adjust and move on in stride.”

I was released from prison June 18, 2019 after serving a sentence of 21 years! For me survival was tough. I was picked up by the program director Jaqueline White. Life seemed like it was going to be a piece of cake in my eyes. My thoughts were always get out, get a job, save money and buy a house and life would be good because I would be living life and not just existing. Boy, what thoughts can do? Who am I? I had no clue of who I was and had to do a lot of work to place myself back into society. I called my family to get my birth certificate, social security card and supposedly medi-cal was established before I left prison.  And none of this was possible or taken care of. So who was I?

 Crossroads staff and a host of volunteers showed me how to do it for myself without getting discouraged. Oh technology these days. I ordered my birth certificate online, got my ID from the DMV and went to social services to get my medi-cal started. Now I was becoming somebody and regaining my self-esteem, reality was setting in because I wasn’t just a number anymore.

Now that I can be called by my name and have a place to call home I felt loved for the first time in a long time, something that was completely foreign to me. After 3 months of being in the program I got my identity back as well as a stable job. It felt wonderful getting up every day to go to my job and serve the senior citizens who come for a warm lunch and some much needed friendly conversation.

Then one day I walked into work to find out my services were no longer needed because of Covid 19. This virus has not just put a stumbling block in my way but all over the world people are suffering. A lot of changes have taken place between the time I got out of prison and the outbreak of this virus which has thrown me back into survival mode but not fear nor panic. If there is one thing I have learned from this process is how to adjust and move on in stride.

Now I have to learn patience, unity and how not to fear the unknown. Because of this quarantine I am now more connected to my family and friends due to the advancement of technology. I get to continue with school on-line which is a plus which helps me continue to grow as a new and skillful women.  Because of the women who came before me I am able to provide my skills of service to the new women as they arrive to the program after being released from prison. I will give them love, support and the loving arms of family as they need it as well as help them cook and become a wholesome young women of the community.

I will not let this virus take my self-esteem or self-worth. I have to say my Crossroads family has given me the strength to handle the situation we are currently in. Thank you for your support and love for it is greatly appreciated.

—Linda A.

Latrevia

“I may not be able to do all the things I had in mind when I first got released but I have a great environment to grow as a successful human being as long as I use my tools in a proper manner.”

On February 18, 2020 I was released from prison and came to Crossroads to begin my program. I longed to see my family so I was granted permission to see my daughter the second Thursday after arriving at the house which was a blessing. As time went on I started working the program everyday which started with a 7:00 AA meeting in the morning and afterwards meetings at the office which included Anger Management, Job Retention, Computer Training as well as Anger & Grief. 

Slowly but surely the news and the radio started talking about the effects of Covid-19 in China and across the globe. So many people were losing their livelihoods and sense of well-being due to this disease at a rampant rate, so they put an order in affect that says we should stay in the house and wear mask when we go out and practice social distancing to cut down on the spread of the disease.

This meant no visits either in or out which put a damper on many of our moods. Now we do two groups in the morning with our regular staff because all of the volunteers are busy protecting themselves from this virus. Which puts Sister Terry & Ms. Jackie in the position to teach our groups.

Even though I can’t see my family like I want to I am able to talk to them on the phone as well as connect through the use of the internet. We have just started going back to our therapy sessions which is good because it gives us an outlet to express our feelings which are otherwise bottled up.

I may not be able to do all the things I had in mind when I first got released but I have a great environment to grow as a successful human being as long as I use my tools in a proper manner.

—Latrevia

Lanelle

Before being released from prison, I had certain expectations, and goals that I set for myself. Upon arrival at the program I found out that many things have changed due to the COVID crisis. Which means that all the incentives I would have earned or enjoyed, were now put on hold until further notice.

Those incentives that consisted of me being allowed family visits, cell phone, travel passes and finding a job have all been put on hold. These small, and maybe insignificant things, were something I looked forward to for a very long time.

Although disappointing, I choose to stay positive and look for other ways to achieve my goals. I have modified my program to follow rules as well as the stay at home order. Thank God for technology and the internet. It allows me to stay connected, regardless of the COVID 19.  I am able to connect with family, friends, and educational programs so that I do not fall behind.

What a blessing. I am so grateful to my God Jesus Christ, and my new family at Crossroads. They are a huge help for my sanity, and peace of mind.

Crossroads offers various groups and activities to help everyone cope through these difficult times. Every time I think of complaining, I remember the homeless and starving people who have nothing.  I pray that they find food and shelter to survive through this crisis that has swept through our nation and the whole world.  Let this crisis be a lesson to us all.  May God bless us all.

—Lanelle

          

The Other Side of the Virus, An Opportunity to Awaken…

Yes there is panic buying.

Yes there is sickness.

Yes there is even death.

But,

They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise

       You can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet

       The sky is no longer thick with fumes

       But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi

       People are singing to each other

       across the empty squares,

       keeping their windows open

       so that those who are alone

       may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland

      is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

 Today a young woman I know

      is busy spreading fliers with her number

      through the neighborhood

      so that the elders may have someone to call on.

 Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples

      are preparing to welcome

      and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary.

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting.

All over the world people are looking at their neighbors in a new way.

All over the world people are waking up to a new reality

      To how big we really are.

      To how little control we really have. 

      To what really matters.

      To Love.

 

So we pray and we remember that

Yes there is fear.

     But there does not have to be hate.

Yes there is isolation.

   But there does not have to be loneliness.

Yes there is panic buying.

    But there does not have to be meanness.

Yes there is sickness.

    But there does not have to be disease of the soul

Yes there is even death.

     But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.

 

Today, breathe.

Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic-

     The birds are singing again

     The sky is clearing,

     Spring is coming,

     And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul

          And though you may not be able

          to touch across the empty square,

          Sing.

– Written by Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM, March 13th 2020