Editor’s Note: One of the common challenges for those working to re-enter society after a prison sentence is one of perseverance. How do you keep going on your quest for quality employment and housing when so many doors seem closed? Terencio Safford, a local writer and editor who also happens to have a criminal record, offers his second post on the subject of what keeps him moving toward his dreams.
Guest Post by Terencio Safford
Today, my boss, Dave, showed his trust in me by putting me in charge of finishing the shingles on the three-season porch that we’ve been working on for the last month. I like working for Exterior Enhancements. I’m learning the construction business inside and out. Dave has taken me under his wing as his apprentice and I hope to become a bigger part of EE as I continue to prove my worth. I am grateful for this opportunity.
However, as I sit at a bus stop outside of Byerly’s in Golden Valley and wait, partially sheltered from the cool rain, reality becomes more and more clear to me. Technically, I am still unemployed. I work on a part-time basis and since I am not licensed and don’t have Limited Liability Corporation status, I’m paid only a modest hourly wage for the work that I do with Dave.
Suddenly, I feel a little down and out. I don’t have a car or my own place. I live with a friend whose small apartment is already overcrowded and the Metro Transit system kills hours of my days. My writing business has been slower than normal lately despite my many ads on Craigslist.
I think about Amicus. I don’t know why really, but I feel a sense of accountability to Chris Doege because of his efforts to pair me with a great friend and mentor, Glenn Olson. I feel as if I’m a stranger to Communications Director Steve Nelson because we have an agreement that allows me to write guest posts to the Amicus blog site and I haven’t done much writing. It’s been a couple of weeks since I talked to him last. I feel as if I’ve let Russel Balenger down. Russel, the Sr. Vice President, has so much faith in my abilities and motivation that he went out of his way to become a great friend to me, offering insights, ideas and inspiration.
As I sit on this bench somewhat embarrassed as people drive by me in their cars with what looks to be contempt in their eyes, I know that I need to make contact. I feel ashamed and defeated. The wind picks up with the rain and I’m exhausted. But this is what I have to do. I have to keep pushing. I have to keep trying because I know that this is how I get my life to the point where I need it to be. I don’t make a lot of money right now and most of what I do make comes from what I can generate under my writing service, Literary Prose. I keep in mind that many successful people became who they were because of the adversity that they were able to overcome. Some say that overcoming challenges in life builds character. I think they are right but I also believe it defines strength. It’s not always easy to recover from a major setback such as a prison sentence, especially when you have little to no family/friend support.
I stomp out the cigarette that I’ve personally vowed to quit smoking…at least five times already! When I look up again, I see the giant time machine known as public transportation lumbering its way toward me. I call it a time machine because by the time you get off of one, several hours seems to have vanished from your life unaccounted for. I prepare my buck and three quarters for my fair and patiently stand on the curb. I will make the call to Amicus soon. They have been instrumental in my success and I don’t want to let them down.
Steve’s Note: Terencio did get back in touch with Amicus and we were happy to hear from him. As he so eloquently relates, it’s easy to get down on oneself and undervalue the progress that’s been made. That’s when someone else’s perspective can be valuable. Whether it’s staff or volunteers at Amicus or positive relationships with friends or relatives, it’s important for us all to feel accountable to and able to reach out to someone. Thanks, Terencio for reminding us about the importance of those connections. And stay in touch!
Life Inspired by Terencio Safford