Adapting to a new life
At the age of 17, Jose was the target of a robbery gone wrong and in a matter of moments, his life was derailed. He would spend more than half of his life behind bars.
After being released in November of 2016, Jose felt alienated from the world and his family. “I never expected to see this day and even be released from prison. I had a very hard time adapting after I left.”
Despite finally being home, he felt unwelcome and unsettled. In addition to that, he had family members who were struggling with addiction which added more tension to his situation. He knew he needed to remove himself to move forward.
A layoff from work may have been his blessing in disguise. As a result, Jose moved into “The Castle”, a long-term housing solution for formerly incarcerated individuals by The Fortune Society. There, he found out about Back on My Feet from a flyer.
Adjusting: Running to reenter
Although early mornings were frigid, they didn’t stop him from making it out to his first run with Team Uptown in December of 2018.
“My first day at Back on My Feet there were hugs and strangers welcomed me. I didn’t even get that from my own family when I returned.”
As an avid runner and soccer player in prison, it was no surprise that Jose took to the program quickly.
In fact, he credits running with Back on My Feet to helping him find a community post-incarceration. “Soccer helped me build a lot of relationships with people I was in prison with, now running is helping him do the same in reentry.” He finds comfort in being able to have real conversations with his teammates, contrary to what he experienced at home.
Since joining Back on My Feet, Jose has put in the miles — in races and in the classroom. He has attended everything from resume building and financial literacy to workshops on Microsoft Office and emotional competency. Jose loves to learn and is open to all opportunities. He firmly believes, “if you set your priorities straight opportunities will outweigh the challenges.”
“I live with a lot of pain from my years in prison. It took me 35 years and 7 parole boards to get where I am today.”
Today, Jose is committed to his goal of working for a reentry and prison reform organization. “I’m passionate about reentry, I want to be an ambassador for the men and women coming home.”
After completing a full-time internship with The Fortune Society, supporting education and training programming for those re-entering, he’s well on his way to achieving that goal.
Jose shares that he lives by three words — adapt, adjust, overcome — and Back on My Feet continues keeps him on track and doing well.