When I started at TEEM, I never imagined the impact it would have on my life and my heart.
I knew TEEM was making a difference in the community but I couldn’t have fathomed the way this organization was touching and changing the lives of individuals who had been impacted by incarceration. This can be seen in each individual with whom we have worked, and equally so in the life of a young lady on my caseload named Brianna.
At 21, Brianna was incarcerated, leaving her two-year-old son behind for potentially five years. Her two-year-old son would go to live with (and later be adopted by) Brianna’s brother out of state.
Brianna came to TEEM in April 2017 and began working towards her GED. She was able to stay clean, but Brianna had no family in the area and her husband was incarcerated. She needed support.
I have to brag on Brianna and her awesomeness. Upon release, Brianna moved into a TEEM-recommended, Christian transitional living home. TEEM assisted Brianna in obtaining employment at a company where she normally wouldn’t have applied. Brianna loves her job and has been employed there almost ten months. Brianna has been promoted to a trainer at her job and, with TEEM's help and ServSafe classes, obtained a second promotion. TEEM helped Brianna get a driver’s license and provided her with financial assistance to purchase her own car so she no longer has to rely on public transportation. Brianna spent time in a leadership role at her transitional center, and recently successfully discharged from the one year program, obtaining her own apartment. She attends a recovery group with one of the local churches and attends church regularly. In being able to show what amazing changes she has made, Brianna has not only begun mending her relationships with her siblings, but her brother has allowed visitation with her son, and the two have begun discussions on how to best co-parent. Brianna has radically turned her life around.
It is so difficult to do anything without the proper support. How common is the phrase “adulting is hard”? Often when people are released from prison, they become overwhelmed by everything that is required of them. When the overwhelming sensation becomes too much to bare and there’s no one to turn to, they resort back to their old people, places and things; this instigates the cycle of re-incarceration. TEEM provides a support system for people who otherwise may have no one, a family to turn to when they need to vent about a work problem, cry over a lost loved one or celebrate a promotion at work. We work to teach these individuals that they are not “throw aways” and that they are smart, unique individuals who have talents and skills that will enhance the community in which we live. Many of them have never had these types of affirmations spoken into their lives, which is a heartbreaking reality.
TEEM encompasses the beauty of redemption. I am so, so blessed to be a part of the work that is being done for our justice system, for our community, and for individuals like Brianna.
Written by Lauren Owen. Names used with permission.