My name is LaTeefa Starks. I am a graduate of the first class of this year. January 8, 2014 at 8 a.m. after serving 8 years in prison I got in touch with Jon Ponder at HFP. I had researched Hope since its inception. I began preparing for release from prison three years before my release. With the guidance of Chaplain Hill, Ms. Begun, Ms. Reeder and many other staff at FMWCC, Jean Camp, and my family/ church family I was able to get information on the resources available to me for a smooth transition and integration back into society. There was nothing like HFP.
I was able to take the pre-vocational workshop just weeks after my release. I knew from the moment I walked into Hope doors that I was home. Jon, Micki, Ginger, Jackie welcomed me with open arms. Also, having friends who have already gone through the class and be apart of the program as my support was truly amazing.
The pre-vocational workshop gave me new tools and reinforced tools that I already had that have helped me make it through this year. Jon’s inspiration words, Gregg Ketter’s reminding me to be in the 5% who know their value and not accept anything less. Barbara Lupe’s motherly love and instruction on interviewing and work ethic. Joni Reed’s class on vivid vision…which most of mine I am living out or have exceeded. For example, I saw myself speaking to a graduating class and I wrote that in my vivid vision.
My eleven months out have had their test and trials along with its victories and triumphs. For my first two months I volunteered here at the front desk answering phones, assisting new clients in the office and helping all the staff in any capacity I could. I also began college at Lincoln Christian University. Then, I had a job where the employer did not pay on time and had a questionable work ethic. I prayerfully left that job. Within a week I had an interview here at HFP to work on a campaign. I worked for the Brent Jones Campaign in the primary race up until june 8, five days after my birthday when I was in a car accident.
I made the Dean’s List last semester at LCU and have 2 A’s this semester already. I was offered a job by Brent Jones to continue working for him at his company Real Water, because he liked the work I did on the campaign. I just recently applied and interview for a family service specialist with dwss. I am awaiting the call to start the employment academy. This has not been an easy year, yet it has been one that I would not want to change. God is amazing and I see HIM in every facet of my life. I am excited about what God has done, is doing and will do. I knew that I could not fail after being released not matter what the recidivism statistics say. HFP has been a necessary ingredient to my success. I talk to my mentor often and as God would have it she had already been apart of my life since I was in prison. I am grateful to all of people that continue to encourage me, so I am here to encourage you to fight the good fight and run the race as one who has already won. There is a great cloud of witnesses cheering you both in the heavenly and here on earth. Do not give and remember it is always the roughest right before something great is about to happen. Keeping seeing yourself where you want to be and you will be there. Thank you