A student just got a job. He’s gone from minimum security to pre-release status which means he can leave the facility to work but returns directly after his shift. He eagerly offered that he is glad he took the Horticulture class because he says he would not have gotten the job otherwise. I asked him to write something about that for me and this is what he wrote.
“The Emerald Necklace Horticulture class I’ve completed has taught me so much. At first I was skeptical about entering the program, but in hindsight, I’m glad that I did. I’ve learned how to use a weed wacker, different styles of gardening, and the importance of having a healthy ecosystem. Because of what I’ve learned in the program I appreciate my new job at BGood. BGood is a local restaurant that only uses organic foods from local farmers.”
Today I sat down with him in the library and asked him questions since I wanted to understand more. It is important for foundations and donors to see tangible evidence of their support. One huge result is a job secured.
Ferriss: What kind of a place is BGood?
RH: BGood is a restaurant that sells organic foods from local farms. They sell grass fed beef and cage free chicken. In the interview I told him that this was a new concept that I had first learned in the Horticulture class. The manager was impressed that I understood eco-friendly farming techniques and innovative gardening, things that I had never heard of until I took this class. Time in the Emerald Necklace program made me aware of healthy eating.
Ferriss: What was most helpful to you about your participation in the Emerald Necklace Maintenance Collaborative?
RH: It was a huge help to be around normal civilians, cars, crowds of people. It can be a hard culture shock to go from the prison to the outside world. The program helps the slow transition … getting up on time, getting up early so that when we get out we are used to it all. Working in the parks is therapeutic, talking to others who don’t have a convict mentality. When you go on interviews they have no idea about jail. I feel like I am offering glimpses of myself.
Ferriss: What do you think of the classroom component of the program?
RH: It helps having someone coming inside the prison. It provides a mental break from being with all people in an institution. Someone like you who comes into here who doesn’t look at me as a number. It personalizes things, it makes me feel like I exist. It helps me to deal with people in real society. It breaks up the monotony of the institution where you feel like a sheep being herded. Horticulture class makes me feel like I belong.
Ferriss: How has this program helped you with your job?
RH: My job needs people who did not just get out of a cage. This program helped me to be in a normal place where I was part of something. It gave me a sense of purpose.
Good Luck to RH!