When Donte first came to We The People Opportunity Farm, he was looking for someone to take a chance on him. As a formerly incarcerated citizens, it’s often hard to find consistent employment that pays a fair wage. He wanted to have a fresh start.
As the weeks past, Donte made friends, smiled more, and soon became a one of our star interns. He began to trust that we were truly invested in his success and that he could rely on WTPOF for not only a steady paycheck, but for guidance and direction in securing permanent employment, training and further education to advance his personal and professional goals.
Sam was introduced to We The People Opportunity Farm through A Brighter Way, a non-profit that helps formerly incarcerated people find stable housing. He was determined to also find stable work that would allow him to change the trajectory of his life, and that is where WTPOF has stepped in.
While Sam has graduated from the WTPOF Paid Internship Program and he has made great progress in successfully reintegrating into our community with new skills and resources to meet his goals, your support is key to ensuring that formerly incarcerated men and women continue to get the support they need to reduce the rate of recidivism.
John had taken an early interest in farming and agriculture in his life, but somewhere along the way, he took a wrong turn. Fortunately for John and for us, all roads led him back to his love for agriculture. He became the Warden’s gardner during his time in the prison system. Once released, he found his way to We The People Opportunity Farm!
Kevin came to the WTPOF Internship program determined to create a new start for himself and get his life back on track. And boy, did he bring amazing energy and spirit to this year’s cohort of interns.
Kevin appreciated that he was able to learn from his mistakes in ways he would not have been able to with another employer. Kevin also enjoyed participating in other aspects of our programming which include job training & search through MIWorks!, helping out with a Habitat for Humanity of HuronValley home remodel project, as well as learning financial literacy through Liberty Financial Services. Kevin is now pursuing meaningful work in our community and visits us at WTPOF often.
LaWanda was incarcerated for 34 years of her life. At 17 she went from living in her parent’s home, to prison. At 51, from living in prison to living on her own. She’s “learning to be an adult in a world she’s never been in”. Her goal is to simply move forward in life among people without feeling awkward, and to gain full time employment and stable housing. She enjoys being an intern at WTPOF because “it pays well, and offers me other needed, necessary resources”. She enjoys being at the farm and was recently inspired to start a small raised garden bed at her apartment. Some of her hobbies are that she’s a great “invention” cook and one of the best roller skaters she knows. LaWanda recently won the $400 runner up prize for presenting at Pitch@WCC with plans to open a food truck called, “The Chow Hall”. She is also one of the first participants to be selected for the EMU Returning Citizens Fellow Program and will begin taking classes this summer.
Logene has spent about 25 years of his life incarcerated, which has made it difficult to find stable employment and housing. Since being in our program Logene has found stable housing; he has gone from living in a motel to recently being handed the keys to his own place that he rents. He has also gone from catching the bus to buying a reliable vehicle.
He enjoys being an intern because he “likes to laugh and enjoy life” and “working with good people” He enjoys hard work and working with his hands, and is a natural leader on the farm. His goals are to find full-time employment he enjoys and to gain financial independence.
Valaxquarez was incarcerated on and off for a total of 30 years throughout his life. He was able to join our program for two months in 2020, and has returned to us for the full program this year. He has an exceptional work ethic, and enjoys working hard and taking care of the plants at the farm. He is currently studying for his Driver’s License with the goal of purchasing a moped. He enjoys learning new things and riding his bike.
Abdu has a thoughtful, detail-oriented approach to his work. He came to WTPOF and immediately gravitated towards the “who-can-find-the-longest-root” weeding game and the nuanced art of placing the sprinkler so it just managed to hit all the edges of the beds designated to be watered. Abdu recognized from the get go that this place is a community – beyond a piece of land that grows physical sustenance, he knew that we are working to cultivate spiritual and emotional sustenance. Often Abdu would swing by the farm in the evening to soak up the last of the sun and enjoy a moment of peace.
Malachi came to WTPOF with a strong foundation – work ethic, clarity of purpose and a willingness to learn all firmly established. He was always a pleasure to have, bringing to each day thought-provoking conversation and a no-nonsense approach to completing the tasks at hand. His desire to learn about the growing of food and his investment in gaining skills in self-sustainability were evident and contagious. Malachi was a grounding and inspiring force to have out at WTPOF.
Marquis was a please to work with. Even-keeled, steady and dependable, he was on a mission to make every day count. Marquis arrived on time and treated every day with the same measured approach. He also was a great example of goal setting as well as the nuanced understanding of oneself that is needed to power through longer days – he always had music playing as he harvested. Marquis was a very hard worker and it was always nice when we had a quieter moment on the farm to sit, chat and share a few laughs.
It was beyond inspiring to watch Mr. Bush evolve and become an integral part of the We The People Opportunity Farm community. He was very forthright about his lack of experience in the arena of farming but, in remarkably short time, became an incredibly valuable part of our crew. Mr. Bush flourishes upon a foundation of consistency. His meditative approach to the work made him an ideal candidate for jobs that require consistent, detailed focus from start to finish. His steady and dependable approach to work was something we all learned from but, while we did not get to see it too often, his wide grin was his most contagious quality!
Ahmad came to us already a shining example of the attitude that is at the core of our internship program: an attitude of kindness, respect and dignity. He arrived at We The People Opportunity Farm and was immediately team-oriented with everyone he encountered. He carried himself with an abundance of curiosity, gentle humility and a palpable desire to learn. Ahmad was incredibly capable and would quickly take on any task handed to him, going above and beyond by asking follow-up questions to guarantee that each task was done well. Ahmad’s commitment to personal growth, unfaltering work ethic and open mind made him a powerful force of positivity and inspiration.