At Called to Serve, we have the distinct privilege of assisting remarkable individuals as they transition from a life of incarceration back into the community. Today, we want to highlight the story of one such individual, Robert White, affectionately known as 'Bear,' whose inspiring journey from prison to becoming a valued community member has left an indelible mark on us.
Robert came to us following a 20-year sentence and two years of navigating life on the streets. Like many returning citizens, he faced the challenge of reintegrating into society with little more than a bus token and the clothes on his back.
In the face of these daunting odds, we at Called to Serve, aligned with Philadelphia’s community violence intervention program, strived to provide Robert with a holistic and individualized support network. Our goal was to surround him with a familial environment, offering essential services such as therapy, employment, and most critically, housing assistance.
Our program was inspired by initiatives such as READI in Chicago, which focus on offering support to high-risk individuals, often victims of violence or formerly incarcerated. These programs have demonstrated remarkable results, significantly reducing arrests for shootings and homicides and victimization due to violence.
When Robert connected with us at Called to Serve, we saw a man in need, not a former inmate. He started working as a cleaning ambassador, an opportunity that allowed him to engage with his community while making an honest living. His hard work and dedication eventually led to a well-deserved promotion to supervisor, earning $20 an hour.
Robert's transformation is a testament to the potential within each individual we serve. He not only found a meaningful livelihood but also became a beacon of hope and inspiration for others in the community.
"Being out there cleaning the neighborhood and seeing people start cleaning their neighborhood, then getting to talk to people about the Lord; I love it," Robert shares. His journey is a powerful reminder of the transformative potential of community programs like ours.
We at Called to Serve are dedicated to recognizing and addressing the specific needs and challenges of our community. We believe in the power of involving the individuals we serve in creating an effective program that leads to real, lasting change.
Today, Robert is a proud resident of Mt. Airy, living a life he can be proud of, despite the challenges of his past. He dreams of getting his record expunged, but until then, his work at Called to Serve stands as a testament to the possibility of rebuilding a good life.
Reflecting on his journey, Robert concludes: "All that I've been through, it seems like it wasn't in vain. I had to go through what I had to go through to become the person I am." His story serves as a beacon of hope for returning citizens and a testament to the transformative power of programs like Called to Serve. Robert, we are proud to have been part of your journey.