Life after prison can be a difficult transition for individuals looking for a fresh start. The Mustard Seed’s Open Door program works closely with men and women leaving the prison system and journeys with them as they re-enter society.
Jonathan, the men’s Reintegration Chaplain, says having a healthy support system is very important for the men he works with both inside and outside of the prison system.
“A big part of marginalization and poverty is broken relationships – loneliness, not having a support network you can lean on, not having someone you can call. The holidays can be an especially difficult time for the guys we support. The holidays are often a time when folks leaving prison remember what they’ve lost, the relationships that are strained or broken,” says Jonathan.
For Nick, the Open Door program and the support of Jonathan were vital after his 13-year prison term. Nick remembers having to re-learn new social boundaries and norms.
“I remember not knowing how to deal with my feelings towards police officers and those in authority after I first came out of prison. I assumed people looked at me like a criminal. I think many of the guys that come out of prison struggle with this,” says Nick.
Nick said he remembers meeting Jonathan when he signed up in prison for a job to be the chapel clerk. He said their relationship quickly became one of friendship and by the time he was released, he knew he could turn to Jonathan for help.
“Jonathan is my only best friend out of here,” says Nick.
Nick says he has a good support system now. He is excited to have has his Class 1 driver’s license, which he said will help him obtain a job as a truck driver. Whenever he can, he acts as a source of encouragement to other men leaving the prison system and keeps in touch with Jonathan through the Open Door Program.