I’ve heard many stories over the years about how people are either helped by someone and then can’t find them later or who help someone that seems to have been put in their path for a reason. Hebrews 13:2 tells us: Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. I might have touched on this in the past, but I felt it necessary to bring it up again. After leaving prison, people don’t understand the challenges that we face upon leaving. You can prepare as much as possible, but there’s only so much help available. I thought I was prepared. I had a list of companies that hired ex-convicts. I also have a lot of experience in customer service and business. It’s also not easy leaving prison and not having any sort of money whatsoever. Everyone needs money to get around, eat, basically to accomplish anything needed to survive. You’re no longer getting your gracious donations to your commissary account from loved ones. Maybe there should be a jpay account when you come home that you can receive donations to help with food, transportation, etc. I was told upon coming home that I’d be eligible for emergency food stamps. That wasn’t true. Since I wasn’t able to return home to live with my husband, we were living separately. I explained all this to the Department of Health. I explained we were still married but forced to live separately until we could find a new home. I explained that I was living with my aunt and paying her rent. This was an added expense that my husband took on since I wasn’t working. The DHS wanted me to send them a letter stating that I was renting from my aunt and that basically she wasn’t helping to take care of me. I WAS NOT going to ask her to do this, nor would I expect her to sign such a letter. I paid my rent, and I contributed by buying food each week to contribute towards what I ate. I would help with buying ingredients for meals and cook them or help cook them. Not many how leave prison has this available to them. The additional money that I was spending now towards food there, was also coming from my husband. I think that some felt that I should have been working sooner than what it took me to find a job. You slowly start to drift in and out of a depression that no one else seems to understand. You almost start to feel like things were easier on the inside than the outside. Yet you NEVER want to go back there ever again. I must have applied for jobs on average 5-10 times a day. This was using various online employment websites. I even reached out to parole to ask for their assistance. Ironically the advice they gave me, I had already tried. I even contacted an employment agency, and they told me that, “it was their policy to not assist people with a record.” I was floored. They preached to us in reentry class that companies are eligible to get a tax break for hiring ex-convicts. (https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/work-opportunity-tax-credit.) Employers can also request ex-convicts to be bonded to protect themselves. We were told that no one has ever had to request an extension on the bonds because one of two things normally occur. The person is a great employee, and the bond is no longer needed, or they screw up during the probationary period and get fired. So why is it so difficult to find a job once you come home? I think because people want to make a lot of assumptions rather than talk to the person. If the person has the qualifications, what does it hurt to at least have a conversation about what happened. You might surprise yourself. Instead, everyone wants to immediately judge someone. We call ourselves Christian’s and yet most don’t realize that a majority of the Bible is based on being in captivity and people who were held in bondage. Captivity and bondage equal jail. The things they were arrested for back then were very serious charges. Christ has a special place in his heart for prisoners. The only time you should look down on someone is when you are reaching out your hand to help them back up. I’m also not talking about giving people handouts. How about giving each other a hand up. It’s like the saying goes, “teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime”. That person you are helping, well they just might be an angel sent from the Lord. Will you pass the test?
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