These are testimonies of people that have been helped by aftercare programs:
Terry Alan Kummer:
Five years ago, after serving 21 years within prison, I was released into a local community to find employment and housing. By then, I had no friends outside of fellow inmates and no family support. My job skills were out of date, and I was alone - -at 55.
Thank God, I'd heard of NAIA. They were gracious enough to accept me. Without them I wouldn't be where I am today: a productive, tax-paying citizen. They provided advice on where to seek education, employment, and how to cope with the changes within society. In twenty years a lot had changed, i.e. cell phones. When released, NAIA members had me set goals, be accountable on a weekly basis to each team member and provided friendships I sorely needed. They arranged for me to obtain a drivers' license, social security card etc. I had no idea how I could have succeeded without their guidance and support. They followed me through my first year out, and even to this day, I consider the term my friends. NAIA was instrumental in my re-establishing life skills, friendships, and needed advice, but above all, accountability for my actions. It impressed me so much, that I eventually became a team member myself.
July 29, 2010 I was released from Prison. A NAIA team member was sitting there waiting for me to be released. When we first talked, we talked about the Rule of 2. You plan on what you are going to do for the next 2 minutes. After that, it was days, then weeks, and then months. We then went directly to the parole office. Without the help of NAIA, I don't know if I would have even paroled. The night I was released, I found out that there was a group of people waiting to help me. My team helped me get furniture, get an apartment, and even helped me get my medications. Since then, anytime I need help, I always have someone to call.
My name is Nathan Wilson, and I am writing this in full support of NAIA. These wonderful people took time out of their personal lives whenever I needed them, all it took was one phone call and everything seemed to get better for me. I am truly grateful and can't thank this group of people enough for the support, strength, and hope they have given me. Each and every meeting we had gave me the confidence that I needed and helped keep me grounded. Reentering the community after prison is very difficult, but with the help and the support of a group like this one, there is hope for a better future. This worked for me and I know it can and will help many others like myself.
My name is Wendy Hansen,
I am 33 years old I have a son who is 11 years old. On January 20, 2004, I was Federally Indicted on drug charges. My life was a complete mess and I was a lost soul among many other negative qualities. I was sent to prison for 54 months leaving my son behind with my mother. I served 41 months with Good Time and a 500 Hour Drug Program. I used all of my time to take an honest look at my life and what I needed to do to never return to that lifestyle again as I knew that I never wanted to return to any of it.
I developed a close relationship with God, and as time went by, He revealed many awesome things to me. I worked hard to let go of the shame and guilt that I held against myself that was so overwhelming. I worked on letting go of resentments that I held towards others and made amends to God, self, and others. I set goals for life for my son and I knew that I was going to walk on faith and that God would carry me when I was unable to continue just as He always did.
When I was released, I feared how I would fit back into family and society. I was released on June 6, 2008 to my mother’s home with my son. I was offered a job at The Bridge, a Therapeutic Community for Women and Children. What a blessing and how rewarding!
I was told about Aftercare through my Probation Officer, she said she would let me think about it before she gave me an application, as she wanted to make sure I was serious and wouldn’t let the team down. I sent the application in and Lauri W. called me and made an appointment to meet with me. I was nervous and met with an awesome team of people. This team was loving, caring, encouraging and they believed in me. I was overwhelmed with gratitude because of this and cried for most of our meeting.
Something beautiful happened in me at that time. I realized that there were people who believed in me despite my past and that my past did not have to hold me back. This is where for sure that I could follow through with the goals that I had set for my son and I had people on my side that would help me through a difficult spot. They called me often to encourage me and asked me how I was doing and if I needed anything and continued to walk beside me until I could fully walk on my own. I called them to share my life with them and to thank them for their love and dedication to my success. It was like having my own team of personal angels. The team helped me to find a car that I could afford and buy.
With time, Lauri asked me to go to church and tell my story and I was nervous, as I had never done anything like that. I felt honored to be asked to do something to give back and help others understand a life of addiction. The team believed in me to the full capacity and that was empowering.
As time passed, I was invited to training for the Aftercare and really began to see that there was a bigger purpose in life that I could not even imagine for myself. I remember thinking “me?” I was again asked to share my story in Valentine, NE and went with joy and felt honor. Still more time, and I was asked to be Area Coordinator for the Hastings area Aftercare what a true blessing and honor! I have never truly believed in myself and never had confidence in myself, so when I was asked to do these things I wasn’t sure I could do any of them. The team believes in me, and that is what amazes me and empowers me to continue on new journeys.
Among some of the goals I set in prison were to set a safe, loving, stable, and healthy home for my son. We are doing very well; it was a smooth transition into our new apartment. My son is now in 6th grade. Wow!
I wanted to go to College to get an education; I started Central Community College in 2009. I wanted to have a close relationship with my family and worried how I was going to fit back in upon release, I have a close relationship with most of them and working on the rest. I wanted to be a member of a Church; I am a member of The First Baptist Church and was baptized in 2009. I wanted to give back to my community and be involved, I am working on that and will continue to do what I can. It is so rewarding to feel that I have a purpose and direction in life. I have a lot of work to do, and my belief and confidence in myself is growing with time and continued support from God and others.
I am truly appreciative of the many people out there that are involved in Nebraska Aftercare IN Action and can’t think of any better way to give back to our communities! I never want to forget where I came from, as that is what made me who I am today, and I want to help someone else in the same circumstance to make our communities better. A little help goes a long way and can work miracles in peoples' lives-just as it did mine and many others whom I have met along the way!!
My name is Jeff Thomas. I started using drugs and alcohol during my freshman year in high school to fit in better with a new group of people I thought were friends. I was hooked from the word go. My drug use started with pot and escalated to Meth on a daily basis… and just about every other drug I could get my hands on. I was constantly stealing to support my habit. As I got older, my crimes would get more serious and my drug use heavier. When I got out of prison the first time, I was just as bad as or worse than when I went in before.
My low point was when I was being arrested in Tennessee. It was like a light bulb clicked on and my eyes were opened to the things I had done and the severity of the hurt I had caused those around me… especially my family. From that moment on, I knew that I was a different person. I just needed to learn the tools and the behaviors to be successful.
My biggest challenges in preparing for my return to society from incarceration were learning new thought processes and good behaviors. You can’t always put your real face on in prison, so practicing new behaviors inside can be tough. The drug treatment inside helped. I also applied for aftercare… Finding a job was also a big concern.
I feel that I would have still been successful without the support of Nebraska Aftercare In Action, but I would not have been able to have the career I have today, nor be able to make the impact on others through aftercare like I am able to do now. I gained some valuable life skills and the insight of others on how to deal with everyday situations. I owe a lot to this program and those who have helped me on my path to success.
I believe the greatest key to a successful reentry into society is the desire to do the right thing and the help of those in your community.
Today, I am able to help others by volunteering to be part of an aftercare team. It gives me a good feeling to be able to give back and be able to make an impact on others lives in a very positive way.