Success from Renewal, Inc.
“I’ve struggled with addiction most of my life. I was in and out of juvenile detention and rehabilitation centers since I was 11 and in prison at 19. I was strung out on crack cocaine and working for an escort service in Ft. Lauderdale. I weighed 88 pounds and truly lived to get high.
By the time I reached 30, I was beginning to get tired. My life had no meaning. Then I met a guy who wanted me to change my life. He begged me to stop using drugs but I couldn’t. When he fell asleep, I would rob him. But he never gave up or turned his back on me.
Finally I crashed and was ready to make a change. An uncle in Pittsburgh needed care so my guy and I packed up and we moved. That’s where life started to get better. I got a job at Subway and worked my way up to management. I was earning a good wage and was able to buy a car. But for some reason, nothing felt right and I wasn’t happy. Getting out of bed was a struggle.
In spite of that, I married the man who believed in me. After my mother became ill in Florida, I returned there to help care for her but when I got back to Pittsburgh, I started using again. I stole from my employer and was caught. Because of my history, the judge sentenced me to 9 – 18 months at a Renewal facility. While there, I completed inpatient and outpatient treatment, was diagnosed with depression and met with a counselor weekly who helped me learn about myself and find some inner peace.
Today, I’m gainfully employed, married and expecting a baby. I attribute my continued recovery to the counseling and services I received at Renewal. The team there has stood by me and provided me the resources I need to face and overcome obstacles that come my way.
Words can never say how grateful I am.”Melissa S.
Renewal Community Partner
The faculty and staff at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) are big believers in the power of education to change people’s lives. This is perhaps never truer than the work we do in partnering with Renewal, Inc. Helping men and women who have experienced incarceration learn how to reintegrate through support, programs and education is critical for them and the overall well-being of the community. This goal matches the mission of CCAC to provide a high quality, affordable and accessible education that is focused on student success for everyone in the communities we serve.
CCAC supports the important work Renewal does in a variety of ways, including making returning individuals know that they are welcome at the college, increasing the awareness of educational opportunities in the area, assisting with the sense that colleges recognize the challenges that adults face, assisting and providing services to help overcome challenges, and enrolling reentering individuals in programs that match their goals.
The reaction to the help we’re able to provide through this partnership has been extremely positive. Many of the men and women we help are able to express how they see education as a way to improve not only their lives but the lives of their families. They also value the information we’re able to provide about access to job services information, potential employment while in college, and a permanent position after they complete a Certificate or Associate Degree as the majority of the individuals who are seen at the Renewal Center are seeking skills to re-enter the workforce.
It’s extremely gratifying for the college staff to see individuals reentering their communities taking the hard, but necessary steps to get the help, support and education they need to help turn their lives around. It’s why all of us do what we do.Mary Frances Archey, Ed.D./NCC
Renewal Employer Profile
“We’ve been working with Renewal for a number of years and it’s been a very good relationship. Renewal is excellent at screening applicants and bringing us people that fit our profile which is a willingness to work hard, be responsible to your fellow employees and generally be a good team player.
It’s not easy work, but we try not to make the job harder by judging people by their background or things they’ve done in their past.
I had a boss years ago that emphasized to me that work should be a safe place where people can come and not be discriminated against because they’ve had a hard family life, tough breaks or made some mistakes in the past they regret.
You should be happy to come to work because work is hard enough. I talk to our Renewal people and I tell them that it’s a tough road to succeed but that there’s a better way to live life than maybe the way they’ve lived in the past… it might be a longer road, but in the end it will result in more freedom and happiness.
When I say that, you can just see the relief in some of these guy’s faces… that someone understands and accepts them and wants to help them have a better life. That’s what we try to do.”Steve L.