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One Thing A Day

Joseph | Graduated September 2022

Coming to prison for the second time, I knew how I wanted to do my time.

I wanted to keep my head down, find a couple friends I trusted, and work out. I had already broken my family’s hearts by relapsing and coming back, so what else could I do? I could be bitter and angry, continuing down the path of life on the installment plan, or I could finally grow up and start taking responsibility for my life. It broke my heart sitting in jail again coming down off drugs. I wasn’t dead but I certainly wasn’t living a life with any sort of purpose.

One day I unexpectedly received a newsletter in the mail from the New Freedom Project. I heard guys on the yard talking about New Freedom, but I hadn’t given it much consideration for myself. I looked at the newsletter and I am not a big reader, but I remember seeing everyone in the photos smiling and looking healthy. I wanted to smile and look healthy too! I started writing them with the intent of coming to New Freedom after my release and it was my first call for help.

A question I had was “How much does all of this cost?”

Luckily, AHCCCS covered everything provided, I had the right plan. I felt a new energy as I could see I was going to be given a real shot at doing something right. When I got to New Freedom, I was a bit overwhelmed. It seemed like everything was moving so fast and I am the type of person who starts thinking crazy stuff when I am overwhelmed. Before I got out of prison my dad told me he heard something different in my voice. He saw that I had acquired a different attitude about life and my release from prison. That’s what led him to continuing a relationship with me. I relied on him when I had those crazy thoughts and we began to build a friendship of trust. He told me to take it all one step at a time and to continue to accomplish my goals.

“At New Freedom I wanted to accomplish one thing a day that would set me up for success. It took me about a month to open up to everyone there. I am glad I did because I was embraced and given so many opportunities.”

At New Freedom I wanted to accomplish one thing a day that would set me up for success.

It took me about a month to open up to everyone there. I am glad I did because I was embraced and given so many opportunities. For instance, we wrote the courts and cleared a manageable pathway to getting my driver’s license restored. When it came time to choosing vocational programming, I saw that I had many options but something drew me towards the culinary program. I think it was because it was something different from the type of work I had done before. Of course, I learned about reading recipes, knife skills, and how to cook but it was more than that. I learned how to be part of a team. I learned how to be a good reliable employee and how to conduct myself in a professional kitchen.

On top of that, I gained a friend and mentor named Jordan Marshall, the instructor for the culinary program.

I also became a Certified Peer Support Specialist. I learned so much in that program as well, which matched perfectly with my culinary experience. I am proud to say that I am writing to you today at New Freedom with my dad right next me now. We are writing this together. My dad says that he was never close to God but he built a relationship with Him through praying for me when I was strung out on the streets. That is the other side of things I had to realize. I hurt people in my addiction. I am so fortunate to have someone by my side through all of this.

This morning I went to the MVD to pick up my new driver’s license. I work for a company that caters and provides services for events all over the valley but most importantly I am happy. I don’t know what is going to come next in my life, but I’ve learned that faith without works is dead. I am ready and willing to work towards any opportunity that God presents. I want everyone to know that all things are possible for you too if you’re ready. If you have someone that is struggling I would encourage you to try and get them into New Freedom, it has not only been positive for me it has been positive for my family who now know their son is living a life with a purpose.