From Mentor to Friend, a Reentry Program Story

by Will Espinoza | January 18, 2019

Ramona was living in a halfway house after being incarcerated for more than six years.  She found herself facing many naysayers.  She knew in order to get her life back she needed to stick to her goals.

Cami was like many young people living in DC, looking for a way to give back to her city.  Several friends recommended she look into Catholic Charities, noting they helped many people and there would likely be a program that would interest her.

Ramona and Cami met through the Welcome Home Reentry Program, and what seemed like an unlikely duo has forged into a true friendship.  Initially bonding over their shared interest in fitness, the two would take walks and talk.  As a mentor in the Welcome Home Reentry Program, Cami introduced Ramona to many new things and the two worked together to set goals, and meet those goals.

While Ramona was working on meeting her goals –  moving out of the halfway house, finding steady employment, Cami was setting and meeting her own goals. The two continued to meet at the gym and go for walks.  A regular topic was the need for a women’s group for returning citizens.  Where women can come to discuss the unique issues they face after incarceration.  Too many women return to unsafe relationships or unsupported environments.

The two brought the idea to Catholic Charities, now Ramona’s women’s group meets biweekly.  The Welcome Home Reentry program allowed Ramona to see that her past doesn’t have to define her future.  Cami and Ramona maintain a close bond and continue to support one another and share in each other’s successes.

Ramona was lucky, she had a supportive family and the help of Cami.  For far too many women returning from incarceration this is not the case.

“As long as you know you are supported you can soar higher everyday.” –  Ramona

Click here to learn more about the Welcome Home Reentry program for Ex-Offenders.