Editor’s Note: One of the common challenges for those working to re-enter society after a prison sentence is one of perseverance. How do you keep going on your quest for quality employment and housing when so many doors seem closed? We recently asked Terencio Safford, a local writer and editor who also happens to have a criminal record, to give us his thoughts on what keeps him moving toward his dreams.
Guest Post by Terencio Safford
Last night I edited my best friend’s mid-term paper for him. My friend, he’s not much of a scholar; he’s a wounded warrior, home from Iraq. I sometimes proofread and edit his school papers to help him out as much as I can. You see, when I was down and needed someone to talk to or just hang out with for a couple of days, Dave was there. When I didn’t have money, Dave paid my way (countless times). When I didn’t have a place to go for refuge, Dave offered his home, his food and even his vehicles to me. That’s Dave. He’s my friend. And in my experience, friendships are what keep me inspired. I care about myself more because I care about what my friends think of me. I woke up this morning and realized how far behind I’d gotten with work. I needed to get caught up, but I didn’t want to start. That’s the hardest part of anything, right? The beginning? I just wanted to continue to lie in my blanket and sleep while waiting for the cows to come home.
ENT! ENT! ENT! ENT! My stupid alarm clock. It was 9:40. I had better get up and start writing. I had been hitting the snooze button since 7:30, the time I normally like to get up and work. It wasn’t easy, getting up. It never is. After a heart-wrenching break-up with my girlfriend during the Christmas holidays, I didn’t think I could recover. But then, I never knew how great my friends were.
Staying the course; not giving up; visualizing your goals. Amicus stands behind all of these ideals through volunteers such as Glenn Olson. To me, Glenn is more than a volunteer. He is the mentor who was assigned to me through Amicus to help me stay focused and positive. We’ll get together for lunch, go biking or just sit down for a bit, with Glenn providing an ear and advice. He’s in his mid-60s and I am in my late-20s. What could we possibly have in common? Nothing! And that’s the beauty of how it all works. Glenn has experienced a higher quality of life than I have. When I need a boost to keep going, I call Glenn. He gives his advice and opinions to me straight. Sometimes it’s not always what I want to hear, but every time it’s what I need to hear. I commend him for his patience and his willingness to help someone who truly needs a good friend. That’s Glenn. He is my friend.
That’s also what Amicus is all about – helping young men and women stay focused and determined. I fell pretty far down and didn’t think I’d ever be able to get back up again but just like this morning, I knew I had to. I fumbled to the kitchen, made some hot tea and booted up my laptop. In the back of my mind I know that failure is not an option for me. My future is important to me and that is what drives me. I am the custodian of my destiny. I hold the reigns to the beast that will carry me to success. I alone, stand before the helm, overlooking the seas, taking in all of the wondrous mystery that she has in store for me. Supported by my good friends and organizations such as Amicus, I have courage.
I am a writer now. From business plans and newsletters to college papers and article summaries, I write. All while finding time to finish my own novel and short stories that reflect both the realities and fantasies of life as I experience it. I operate a real business that I created, nurtured and am now supporting. I am up. I am awake. And there is no way that I could have done it without my friends.