ARCH works in collaboration with the Horizon Prison Initiative and various staff in reentry and vocational training programs in correctional facilities to form a pipeline from pre-release training to post-release housing and employment. An important part of this is facilitating cohorts of Getting Ahead While Getting Out.
ARCH facilitates a cohort of Getting Ahead While Getting Out at the Ohio Reformatory for Women. The purpose of teaching this curriculum is to provide returning citizens with a comprehensive community based approach to reentry. We actively engage with incarcerated people, their families, their networks, and those that support them.
We are so proud of the most recent cohort! The Getting Ahead curriculum has a proven track record of endowing incarcerated individuals with the tools and confidence to face the challenges presented to them when they leave prison. This cohort was no exception.
One of the graduates, Shain, wrote a poem inspired by the curriculum and incarceration which you can read below.
From Our Point of View
Some say felons won’t amount to anything
That we have nothing to offer, nothing to bring.
Statistically that may be true we’re really meant to fail.
With our futures filled mostly with outrageous fines and yet another bail.
But for others of us felons we’re here to tell you of another way to go about.
By using the knowledge we learn from “Getting Ahead While GettingOut”.
Reentry for us simply means to get another chance.
Having the same opportunities of success, for our lives to enhance.
So with that we are here to tell you that our past nor our incarceration
Will ever stop our steadfast determination.
One question we were asked was “What does your life look like upon release?
It never occurred to me that something like this would make me stop and freeze.
I didn’t know what to say because I’ve been in prison for all these years.
Suddenly I realized I was overwhelmed with so many unknown fears.
Collectively as a group we began to dig in,
Paving a road to acknowledge our past, present, and future from within.
We started drawing all of our thoughts and ideas out on paper no matter how big or small.
We were setting goals and making plans while building the confidence to achieve it them all.
At first the part about the importance of language seemed a bit strange.
But depending on if you’re speaking to a boss, friend,
PO, or landlord, we saw how our conversations changed.
Because we must be proactive in getting our own resources for us to succeed.
Financial planning is an absolute must when it comes to finding a place to live.
With inflation we don’t want to commit to pay for more than we can afford to give.
Each individual we made a specific list of what would work so they could begin to look.
From the neighborhood, appliances, bedrooms, bus line, and if I have enough room in this kitchen to cook.
We have networked to build support systems with our families, friend, churches, ARCH, other organizations, and perhaps even a boss.
And we’d like to thank all of you for holding us accountable, assisting in our continuous learning path, and most of all for believing in us.
We are returning as restored citizens, changed from a felon to being your neighbor just doing the best we can.
And we will beat the odds stacked against us because nothing is beyond our reach as long as we stick to our reentry plan.
Inspired by Cohort #2 ARCH Reentry (ORW 2022-2023)
Written by: Shain Widdersheim #87885 @Ow