Intentionality…      by    Rory Andes

What is my life’s purpose? Given no restrictions, what would I do in MY perfect world? I put my toes in the water with this last November with Defy Ventures Washington, but I was asked to really dig in recently with a therapist. In my perfect world, people in prison would have access to all the tools they really need to rebuild/rebrand their lives. For me, that starts with information. It’s great to say “I want to…”, but if you have no idea how to, no guidance where to start, and no access to anything that can show you, hopes and dreams become just that, hopes and dreams. Like it was told to me by a chronic recidivist, “If I knew how to build a bridge (to the community), I would have been an engineer, not an inmate.” And if you don’t have a support system beyond prison, you will NEVER know what’s possible. What’s the old saying? You can want in one hand and, well… you know… in the other and see which one fills up faster.

My life’s purpose has evolved at this point to ensure information is distributed to inmates. All positive varieties and how to use it. Period. There are methods on where to write to get information on schooling, housing, etc, etc, etc, but the addresses are sometimes difficult to find. But these are just tools in a toolbox. How do I use them to build the safety of a home to house my dreams? There’s so much involved for this. Trade skill, blueprints, permits (because you better believe that if you have restrictions by DOC, you’ll need to know what you can and can’t do). I want to get a Masters in social work and plug information, real information – timely, current and how to use it – into the hands of every inmate. Then I want to hold the system accountable to the community for doing the same. Want schooling? Instead of hearing “sure, we’ll help you when you get out…” or “in here, we only have math 86…”, I want an inmate to have a flow chart filled with options, coursework, expectations, timelines, and motivators a few years out to actually make a viable plan for success.

How do you plan without usable information? If someone lived in despair of some variety and without hope before prison, I want to show the way back to hope, all with road maps, rest stops, gas stations, mileage data and how to use it to plot a course to self discovery and success. Parents give this to kids all the time. What if your dad was absent and your mom an addict? I bet you didn’t learn to balance a checkbook, the value of a dollar or the possibilities of financial security. What can you do if you did learn? It starts with info and how to use it. Really, it starts with someone wanting to be involved with an individual’s life to provide that connection. I want to be that connection.

Most importantly, folks like me don’t have a large “people pool” of community support and I believe I am of the majority, not the minority. If it weren’t for other inmate’s loved ones, I’d have exactly three of my own that I could count on. Now imagine yourself with only three people to lean on and then try to rebuild a life in a world devoid of any meaningful, timely, or useful information. Do you find a lot of hope in that? My intention for my life is to ensure this doesn’t have to be the case… Not for any inmate, or any underdog, ever.

by Rory Andes

Ponder this: If not for HumanMe, you wouldn’t even know I exist. Get involved and change a life.

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