For Kristin Burns, things were not going according to plan. As a kid, her mom got sick with cancer and passed away. She moved in with some family members, but when that didn’t work out, she ended up as a ward of the state. Kristin, looking for a community and a sense of belonging, ended up on a path that would take her to prison.
“I felt almost the entire time after my mom passed that I was being punished…Really, I’m being punished because she died? And that’s what gave me the attitude of ‘why am I here,’” she said. “I turned to the wrong people unfortunately, and they were drug users, and that led me down that path. I felt so needed by those people, more than I did anywhere else.”
Facing her second incarceration – a 10-year sentence – Kristin saw Televerde as an opportunity for a stable job and valuable training. Not only did working at Televerde build a path to economic stability for Kristin after release, it’s given her purpose and direction.
“I thought, I need to figure out what I want to do with my life, and I don’t want to do this again. Ten years being somewhere you don’t want to be is really difficult,” she said. “I was incarcerated for all those years, and Televerde really gave me a sense of purpose. It gave me a sense of belonging. It gave me a sense of accomplishment, and confidence.”
Throughout her time working with Televerde, Televerde Foundation provided a variety of services to help Kristin’s journey to a stable life post-incarceration, but also the journey she started at 15 years old.
“A lot of us are super broken, and we don’t even realize it before we come to Televerde. We start working and we have a sense of purpose,” she said. “Let me go to work, let me do my job, let me learn these skills so I can fulfill my sense of purpose. The most important thing I took away from working there is that people who have made mistakes can figure their life out in the worst of circumstances.”
For many women at Televerde, part of the process is understanding what paths are available and how to take the first steps to make them a reality. Helping participants gain that perspective is where Televerde Foundation comes in.
“Joining Televerde Foundation’s PATHS reentry program really helped me prioritize what I need to focus on. Through it I gained perspective and confidence to help me continue to make smart choices both professionally and personally.”
Now released, Kristin is making payments on her car, renting a 2-bed apartment, and has paid off her restitution.
“The best part of how it’s going now, I’m fulfilled as a human. I feel like I’m doing the right thing every day; I’ve never felt like that. I just don’t even know how to explain what the best part is, just being able to live life sober and motivated to succeed both personally and professionally,” she said.
Learning the fundamentals of adult life is an ongoing process, Kristin said, but it’s a challenge she feels prepared to face.
“I don’t think very many people realize that they have the internal or emotional issues they have until they get to a place like Televerde or the Foundation,” she said. “From there, I gained a new perspective on how I want to live my life. If you can completely take one damaged, drug-addicted person and make them who I am today, that’s the culture.”