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Not Doing It Alone: One-to-One Participant Deborah Stenerson

February 17, 2012

Post by Jessica Hunt

Deborah Stenerson knows the power of relationships. Her actions in an abusive relationship resulted in a prison sentence. A positive relationship through Amicus  played a role in  encouraging and inspiring her to make a change in her own life.

In November of 2002, Deborah was convicted of 2nd degree, unintentional murder. She was being abused at the time and in striking back, she lost control.

Deborah recalls the scene and said, “I didn’t know what was going on, but I kept thinking, ‘what did I do?”

Deborah was charged with murder and booked into Hennepin County Jail. After seven months, she transferred to Shakopee Women’s Correctional Facility.

During her time in Shakopee, Deborah took advantage of classes in anger management, office support and she received her computer certificate. She also took some college courses and a three years associate’s degree in business communications and computer software.

“It was place that saved my life,” she said. “People think you go to prison that it’s horrible…it doesn’t have to be …but how I spent it was still up to me.”

Deborah accomplished much in her time at Shakopee and was able to help several other women along the way.

After five years at Shakopee, Deborah sent in a request for a One-to-One friend through Amicus.

Amicus Volunteer and Mentoring Program Manager Robyn McCullough traveled to Shakopee to interview Deborah, learning more about her in order to give her the best volunteer match possible. “I said that I would like someone my own age, and that psychology was my favorite subject,” Deborah said.

Deborah was thrilled to learn that she would be matched with Cindy Anderson, who happened to be a psychologist, just as Deborah aspires to be. Within the next year, Deborah is hoping to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

“She (Cindy) is an amazing woman in that she gives of her heart and her time. It is just awesome,” Deborah said. “It inspires me to do the same, the giving-back part is so important.”

When Deborah left Shakopee, on a work release program, Cindy continued to display her support.

“We just had some great conversations and had a lot of similar interests. And it was really nice,” Deborah said. “And she made sure she was there every two weeks. I really look forward to seeing her…we really have developed a friendship now that is very deep.”

Despite the obstacles, Deborah is now working part-time at Classic Market Café and Hallmark cards.

“She (Cindy) was so proud of me when I would obtain a goal: my degree, my treatment, when I graduated,” Deborah said of Cindy’s affirming nature. “She was always just cheering me on, saying she was just amazed at how remarkably I was doing. And so her support was just really, really important.”

Through her relationship with Cindy and others, Deborah says that she ultimately has gained a sense of peace in knowing that things will work out for the better.

“Because you can’t do it alone,” she said. “And you don’t need to.”

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