Take a moment to #turnthepage and read the tear-jerking stories of our clients, donors and volunteers about the reasons they became apart of the T.O.R.I. program and the life-changing impact the Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative has had on their lives.
“My family had no idea whatsoever,” Calvin says, looking down. “That’s the thing about addiction. It’s insidious.”
Calvin was the average blue-collar worker at a local telecommunications company. Calvin had a beautiful wife, two school-aged children, and a lovely home in the suburbs that was just a brief commute from his job.
Calvin is someone who feels deeply and cares so much for others. He often gets teary-eyed when he recalls the story of his father telling him, “I’m so proud of you. You made it in life.” He still smiles wide when discussing his wedding day and his love for his children.
However, following a minor surgery, Calvin was prescribed painkillers, which led to addiction. Calvin maintained his addiction in private for nearly a decade. Due to his addiction, he recalls seeing the milestones of his children growing into adults, graduating from school, getting married, and starting successful careers – but he didn’t feel anything.
Therefore, Calvin decided to quit his addiction, but like so many, he chose to use painkillers one last time. In his car, surrounded by narcotics, he passed out in the parking lot of his office. Fortunately, a security guard discovered him and called the paramedics.
Following his resuscitation, the officers could not overlook the volume of opioids in his vehicle. The officers arrested Calvin. He was charged and released from jail while he was awaiting trial.
“When I told my wife, that was the hardest conversation ever. She had no idea,” Calvin said with tears in his eyes.
Ultimately, Calvin received a sentence of 90 days in a rehabilitation program, where he gained his health and sobriety back. Despite this gain, he lost his wife and children, who could not comprehend how he kept such a secret.
One day, while attending a class at a community resource center, Calvin saw a flyer for the T.O.R.I. program. Among the six core components listed, Family Reunification stuck out to him. He wanted nothing more than to reunify his family.
“Those big white letters on the green background just hit me,” Calvin says.
After joining T.O.R.I., Calvin and his case manager created a reentry transition plan centered around making amends with his family. Throughout his time with T.O.R.I., Calvin obtained employment with a global telecom company, rebuilt his credit, connected with a mentor, and completed 60 classroom hours of rehabilitative courses. Indeed, Calvin had transformed his life.
“My favorite thing was the Annual Thanksgiving Potluck. During the potluck, T.O.R.I. invited participants in the program and their families to enjoy a time of laughter and fun and celebrate the holiday with the entire T.O.R.I. staff and volunteers. Instead of wallowing in missing my family and spending the holiday alone, I enjoyed spending time with my new T.O.R.I. family. Some of the other participants brought their families, but many of them lost their families due to incarceration, just like me. However, watching the children playing reminded me of my family and only strengthened my resolve.”
Calvin also benefitted immensely from the free counseling offered through T.O.R.I.’s partnership with The Potter’s House Counseling Center, which a licensed mental health professional provides. Through those sessions, Calvin wrote detailed letters to his wife and adult children, who left due to his conviction. After holding them for weeks, he sent them, hoping to receive a response.
As he prepared to graduate from the T.O.R.I. program the following March, he sent invitations to his wife and children despite being unsure they would attend.
When he entered the church, pomp and circumstance playing, he saw the words on the giant screen: “I Am More. Time to Soar. Redemption Sunday.”
“Redemption,” he thought. “That’s what this is about.”
Turning to face the crowd of thousands, he saw his wife and children. He waved, and though they didn’t wave back, he stood tall. The following months would usher in new communication with his wife and children and a new understanding between him and his wife.
“She’s seen the miles I’ve walked and the changes I have made. If I keep walking in integrity and working hard to be the best version of myself, I can have the life back I took for granted for so long.” Calvin says with a look of hope in his eyes.
T.O.R.I. serves men and women, with criminal justice system involvement of all lengths. Encounters with the criminal justice system produce collateral consequences that can take years to repair. T.O.R.I.’s clinically designed program, centered on the six core components of Employment, Education, Healthcare, Housing, Spiritual Guidance, and Family Reunification, creates a roadmap for these returning citizens to become productive members of society.
Calvin’s journey towards regaining his marriage with his wife may continue to be a work in progress. Still, Calvin’s future is bright with the foundational building blocks provided through the T.O.R.I. program.
It would be safe to say Frank has never had the privilege of peace throughout his life.