Nov 9 Written By Marc Vahanian
For our first Newsletter, we want to share where we’ve been, what we’re doing and why. 2020 has been a year of unprecedented change, challenge and upheaval. Though the re-learning curve has been steep for many, it has been an even more perilous climb for those on the margins.
Some of the incarcerated had been away so long, smart phones, computers, and Zoom were alien creatures. Adult learners with special challenges move from not knowing their abilities to discovering that they can learn, endure and persevere. It is awe inspiring to watch willingness, determination and grit blossom as they begin to navigate this strange and different world.
At Pathway To Kinship, in response to Covid-19, we have modified our life/work skills training and leadership consulting programs from in-person to remote. We have expanded our partnerships with restorative justice non-profits so that we can provide even more development training to at-risk young women and men, the formerly incarcerated and their families.
Over the past year we have built meaningful partnerships with three Los Angeles-based non-profits:
Amy Friedman and POPs the Club (working with the children and loved ones of the incarcerated to turn their stigma and shame into hope and dignity) and provided a group of young women with a seven-week course titled, “Success: The 7 Keys.”
We have provided team building and operational improvement consulting for Sister Mary Sean Hodges and the staff at The Partnership for Re-Entry Program, or PREP. The staff at PREP provides a correspondence course as part of transformational work and pre-release training designed to help re-integrate parolees back into the community. We wish a very happy 80th birthday to Sister Mary!
In partnership with ARC we are co-facilitating a 12-week Cohort Construction Union preparedness program for 35 individuals. When asked what hurdles they have overcome so far, participants shared the following:
- Fear of navigating/learning on the Internet
- Temptations, distraction to quit the program
- Unstable housing, transportation
- Limiting beliefs, like “I can’t”
- Gilbert, who was sentenced to prison at the age of 15, and has only been out a few short months. In his 40’s now, he went inside before ever learning to drive a car.
These men and women are seeking to build a new identity, new possibilities and careers. They are able to turn up the wattage of a dim light. And rather than being defined by their past, they are defining their present by their new hope, new dreams and a fresh esteem.
Lessons From Re-Entry
Pathway To Kinship participants share their stories about incarceration, the hurdles to rehabilitation, re-entry and transformation. It continues to be a privilege bearing witness to the hopes and dreams of our returning citizens.
“I was released after 24 years. I didn’t know what type of profession I wanted to pursue, but I was determined to become a success story within my re-entry back into society. I was afforded the opportunity to attend TKP’s Career Readiness Workshop, which taught me about job etiquette and the do’s and don’ts when interviewing. I have been a productive member of society for 2 years now and have had five jobs since my release all of which have led me to a position as a Life Coach at ARC, the very organization that introduced me to TKP. I learned to have confidence in myself and put my best foot forward. I am now working with men and women returning home from incarceration and helping them with their transition.”
“I am Van Huynh, at 4 years old I escaped with my mom and sisters from war-torn South Vietnam. I continued to search for safety, for protection, for acceptance, for purpose right out of school, into the “gangs,” and into the courtroom where I was sentenced to life at the age of 16.
Social Justice Advocates fought for me and with their kindness and compassion through their tireless activism – after serving 25 years I was given a second chance. During this pandemic crisis I was very privileged to be an uncle with the Auntie Sewing Squad to help sew and distribute over 100,000 protective face masks as well as various necessities to underserved communities locally and all over the United States.”
We are grateful to the generous support of our donors, volunteers and non-profit partners. You have made it possible for us to expand our collaborations with allied individuals and organizations. These additional partnerships have amplified our impact by positively impacting some of the most underserved and in-need members of our community today. We would also like to give a special thank you to Anna King, for her support and expertise on behalf of PREP.
The premise of our work when stripped down to the marrow, is that there is no them and us. We are a family. We may be a dysfunctional clan, but we belong to each other. What we see is a warmth, humor and tenderness that has been revealed in the safety of our circle, and a bond of kinship.
We invite you to stay connected, stay in touch and participate in any way you are moved to.Donate
Tax Deductible Donations can be made to our Non-Profit, Federal tax-exempt status as a public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (Tax ID: 27-6601178).