Voices of Hope – Shawn A.

Before Operation New Hope, I was hopeless. I started drinking and drugging when I was 12, and by 17, I had done everything I swore I would never do. I entered a vicious cycle of incarceration. By the time I was 19, I got put in the Matrix and thought as long as I didn’t use drugs, I would be ok, but that proved to be not true. Even when I was sober for a time, I was still in a hopeless state of mind.

When I went to prison for the second time in 2014, I lost my grandma and mother while I was there. My mom had been my greatest support but also my greatest enabler. I felt so lost. When I was released in 2019, I was dropped off at the Greyhound bus station and had nowhere to go, so I became homeless living behind the City Rescue Mission. I returned to a life of drug use, and then my dad passed away. I ended up returning to prison for the last time in 2020. At that point, I was resentful, wondering how could I be at this place again. That’s when God spoke to me and told me that I’m responsible for my actions. That was the turning point. I had always expected others, God included, to provide for my needs. It was then that I realized I am responsible for my own self. I knew I had to make a change.

That’s when I heard about Operation New Hope. As I was preparing for release for the last time, my classification officer recommended the Ready4Release program. The team helped me develop a plan and arranged transitional housing. When I got out, I immediately entered the Ready4Work program, and everything went straight up from there. It’s been amazing. I received so much – hope, support, job and resume skills, employment, reconciliation of relationships – I got my life back!

Operation New Hope has enabled me to ultimately change my life in it’s entirety. I no longer feel hopeless. I know that everything will be ok. I now can be someone I never thought I’d be. I have a genuine smile on my face today. I’ve learned to like myself which is a monumental change. We all make an impact – either positive or negative. I spent my life taking, and today I’m able to give. I can now be there for others and be an example of hope. I want to continue to have a positive impact in the lives of others.

My goal now is to be a father to my 13 year old son who I’ve never been there for. I plan to be a man of integrity that he can learn from and look up to one day. I’m not proud of all my choices, but I am thankful for the experiences that made me who I am today.”

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