Voices of Hope Update- Crystal C.

Founded in March 1999, Operation New Hope is celebrating our 25th anniversary this year, commemorating our legacy of transformative impact on the people and communities we serve. To mark this momentous occasion, we reached out to some of our former clients to see how they are doing now. Years after returning home, they are still applying what they have learned during their time here at Operation New Hope to achieve success and build a brighter future. 

Here is Crystal’s Voices of Hope Update:

Looking back, what was the hardest thing about the first year after you were released?

“Reflecting on my first year, I recall a time filled with fear and uncertainty. Having spent the previous decade in prison, adjusting to newfound freedom was daunting.”

What are you up to now? Where are you working and how are you doing?

“Today, I proudly hold the position of Assistant Director of Operations at Camp Craft Cocktails. However, beyond my professional responsibilities, I devote my free time to serving as an inspiration to those who are incarcerated and striving to change societal perspectives.”

What have been the happiest moments since being released?
“Having the freedom to look down the road without seeing a fence is a profound feeling. Every day is a happy moment for me. Even if mentally or emotionally I’m at a low it’s about living through it and knowing that I have the power to decide my life.”

What have you learned about yourself in the time since going through the Ready4Work program?
“I am strong, smart, and intelligent. Ready4Work has taught me the importance of embracing my true self. I strive to be the leader I once needed and never feel ashamed of my past mistakes. They are part of my journey, shaping me into who I am today.”

What are your dreams and aspirations?
“My dream is to be the person who used her voice to help make change and pave the way for those who share my story.”

What achievements are you most proud of?
“My biggest achievement would be not only how far I’ve climbed the ladder in my profession, but also having the opportunity to return to a place where I was once incarcerated and bring hope to those beginning their journey to freedom. My greatest achievement is the positive impact I have on the lives of others.”

If you could change one thing about the criminal justice system, what would it be?
“We should strive to understand what led individuals to their actions and what can be done to help them become positive contributors to our community. It’s about addressing the root causes and providing support and opportunities for rehabilitation rather than solely focusing on punishment.”

What do you wish someone had told you about reentry?

Your past does not dictate your future. There’s something greater awaiting you. While the road ahead may not be easy, remember that everything is possible with determination and resilience.”

How did incarceration and reentry change you?

“Incarceration played a significant role in shaping the person I am today. Despite its challenges, it provided a unique opportunity for self-focus without the distractions of the outside world, allowing me to work on improving myself for the future. The journey of reentry was far from easy, but with the love and support I received from Operation New Hope, I was able to embrace my true self and express my full potential.”

What does HOPE mean to you?
“Hope is seeing your second chance to truly live again, to embrace opportunities and possibilities that lie ahead.”

How do you hope your story can inspire or support others?
“I hope my story can shine a light and inspire anyone embarking on their path to not only physical freedom but also mental and emotional freedom. If I can build a successful life in just six years after knowing only the life of prison, then I believe you can build a successful life too.”

Is there anything else you would like to share?
“Second Chances matter, and so do you.”

Crystal in 2024
Crystal enjoying the day outside.

At Operation New Hope, we believe that we are all better than our worst mistake, worst day, or worst decision. We believe in people’s ability to transform their lives through commitment and hard work. We see it every day as we support our clients’ reentry and growth. With the skills learned and confidence gained from our Ready4Release, Ready4Work and Ready4Success programs, our participants go on to become productive community members and build successful careers earning living wages. Read more stories of transformation, success and hope!

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