There are few who have spoken as eloquently about poverty, racism and incarceration as Nelson Mandela. His words echo true for all of us at Bailey House: “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life,” he said. “While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.”
Every day at Bailey House, we see stable housing and support transform the lives of our clients from one of trauma and poverty to health, wellness and community. A few years ago, Robbie*, a client who spent 25 years in prison, arrived at our doors three days after his release. He had run out of the medication he needed that had been given to him by prison healthcare services and had only a few dollars left. As he later shared, he was about to steal and probably go back to prison. But then something happened to change his life forever — Robbie became part of Bailey House. Within a few days of connecting with us he had housing and healthcare. A few months later he was attending groups, became certified in peer alcohol and substance abuse counseling, and began dating a woman he met in program. But Robbie didn’t stop there. He got his GED, a job, is studying for his Master’s degree and was recently discharged from life-long parole.
We believe, as Mandela stated, that helping someone overcome poverty is not charity, but social justice. No one could personify this more for us than Robbie, who had every barrier stacked against him. He, like Nelson Mandela, will forever be our hero.
*Name changed for confidentiality