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Finding Strength to Stay on the Journey: Breeze Red-Sky and Amicus Reentry Services

January 12, 2012

Post by Jessica Hunt

Breeze Red-Sky consistently walks into the Amicus office with an ease and, yet, a quiet determination not seen much. Underneath that demeanor lies a person on a unique journey of trying to rediscover his roots and the value of simplicity.

Breeze Red-Sky

Breeze Red-Sky finds Amicus to be a safe place from which to continue his journey back into community.

As part of an Ojibwe tribe, Breeze grew up in the Red Lake reservation. He was influenced by his family’s cultural values and the fact that they placed little worth on material things.

When Breeze was starting his final year in high school, he began dealing marijuana and soon became careless. The dealing drew him into more serious and violent crime, and in September of 1989, Breeze was convicted of burglary and second-degree murder with intent.

Breeze was determined to push himself forward despite his 22-year incarceration at Minnesota Correctional Facility – Oak Park Heights. A guard encouraged him to start reading and that helped Breeze start on a path to learn more and take advantage of the college courses that were available to him while he was there.

Breeze also began steady work on his release plan and took specific classes in computer programs that helped.

He learned many things through his preparation, including the resolve to make a living despite reentering into a society that is not always open to individuals with a criminal history.

“With the conviction, don’t get discouraged, keep your head up,” he said about the numerous times prospective employers will say no to a job-seeking ex-offender.

“One of them is going to be yes. Remember you have to take stepping stones.”

Breeze first heard about Amicus at Oak Park Heights as Amicus volunteers were working there with other inmates. The facility’s transitions staff also recommended he look into the agency, as he was preparing for release.

He describes his first visit to Amicus as nice and comforting. “You always get that welcome back feeling…You always feel it when you walk in the door.”

The reassuring environment is what attracts Breeze to the office multiple times a week and it provides him a safe place to job search and make necessary calls.

With ambitions to develop his own business, Breeze also decided to take advantage of the Heads Up Strategies class taught by Amicus facilitators Julie Jefferson and James Cannon.

Breeze’s class learned many skills related to interviewing and job searching and Breeze recommends it to anyone with a criminal record who is hoping to build their skills in that area.

“Being in there with other people like yourself gives you a sense of confidence that you can do this,” he said.

To help move beyond his past mistakes, Breeze intentionally surrounds himself with people who encourage him.

“I just don’t want to go back…I wasted too much of my time in there (prison),” he said. “You just have to keep a good attitude about it.”

Patience has become more important for Breeze as he is trying to withstand the urgency of daily life. Now, Breeze said that he is working to slow down a bit and appreciate simpler things.

Breeze admits that personal change is not easy. He is currently trying to confront the challenges of living at a halfway house and having a lack of support.

Still, he knows the strides he is taking will be worth it and says, “if you are bound and determined, it is going to come,” Breeze said. “There are going to be bumps in the road… dust yourself off, pick yourself up and keep going.”

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