Saturday, June 22, 2019

Encouragement From Avi… by Rory Andes

"We are all atoms in the universe and all atoms are important."
-Avi Shai, Google Executive

On May 3rd, our reentry team, REACH (Reentry Empowerment and Community Health), had the chance of a lifetime, a chance unheard of for prison inmates. A chance to bounce ideas with a tech professional who's driven and has a heart for mentor ship. We made some connections through our partners with Post Prison Education Program and their director, Ari Kohn, who heard our request and made some phone calls. Before you know it, Avi Shai, engineering director and Google executive, was wanting to meet us and talk.

This opportunity was important. First, it showed that we had a voice, which is so often lost in the noise of incarceration. And our voice carried all the way to Google through connections made all from within prison. Second, having Avi take notice, and then schedule us into his busy life, gave us a sense of our importance to the world beyond this prison. We know we have an importance to our personal connections, but to meet with and discuss better ways to advance our program with a community powerhouse gave us a sharper focus and direction.

By the end of the meeting, we heard a lot of wonderful advice, developed some strategies for long term program sustainment, and got a feel for a wonderful world beyond prison using the resources we have. Avi took an opportunity to give a little time to guys whom, by free world standards, don't deserve anything. We walked out of the meeting feeling purposeful and motivated. While we may just be atoms, thanks to Avi Shai and his philanthropic perspectives, we are the elements of a bigger and brighter world...

by Rory Andes

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