The Ladies Empowerment & Action Program (LEAP) at the Homestead Correctional Institution provides entrepreneurship training and support to incarcerated women, preparing them to re-enter society and be economically independent.
Barry University supports the LEAP Program by supplying the classroom instruction in entrepreneurship and business planning. The ladies also receive career building skills and the necessary tools and training to gain employment upon release. We are proud of the success of the LEAP graduates.
This is the story of one of the graduates …
Dear Dean Tomislav,
I am a LEAP graduate from Class 7. It has been 3 years and 3 months since my release from Homestead Correctional Institution, where I was incarcerated for 4 years and 3 months. It was during my third year in prison that I was accepted to the LEAP program. Here, I met the most dedicated and passionate people for their cause of empowering women in prison.
The program offers women in prison with the skills needed so that they will have a second chance in being successful, not only on their re-entry into society but to achieve their dreams of pursuing the career of their choosing. These women, including me, are taught life changing skills and entrepreneurial business skills so that they have the knowledge, tools and understanding of how to own a small business. Through their workshops, LEAP students develop a mindset of doing the right thing, making the right choices, having a positive attitude and staying focused on making their dream a reality.
LEAP was a big part of my life while I was incarcerated. It gave me a reason to get up in the morning and focus on what was important so that upon release from prison I would be able to apply what I learned from LEAP and be a role model to my children and grandchildren, and become once again a law-abiding citizen of the community.
I live in Brevard County, which is a good distance from the LEAP Circle, and was unable to attend any of the functions, but LEAP has continued to be a part of my everyday life by reading all the successes of fellow LEAPers from the LEAP social media page and the newsletter that is sent out regularly, as well through ongoing contact with Ms. Gemma Garcia and Ms. Pat Glover.
When I first got out, and after enjoying a month with my family, I started looking for a job. I found out that employers in my area are not very acceptable to hiring an ex-offender. I believe that this is because most employers in my area still have the mentally that ex-offenders are all bad and not worthy of giving them a second chance. I received rejection after rejection, not because I was lacking the experience and skills that the position required, but because of my felony record.
I am convinced and a true believer that LEAP has made and continues to make such immeasurable difference in the Miami area in educating the community that women in prison who go through the LEAP program leave prison as totally changed individuals.
There were times when I wanted to quit looking for a job, but it was like Ms. Garcia was in the background telling me not to give up, to keep pushing and prove to everyone that I was not another number to be added to the statistic of a failed ex-offender re-entering society. Through LEAP, I learned that failure is not an option, so I was determined not to let down the people who groomed me for this moment and let their energy and dedication go to waste. I pressed on and went on interview after interview until I found a job working as a sales agent for a company who specializes in providing working capital to business owners who are not able to obtain funding from traditional lending institutions. I worked at this company and learned every aspect of the business. Through hard work, a know how attitude and impeccable work ethic I was promoted to Director of Submission and Underwriting, and was also given a percentage of ownership of the business after working for the company for less than a year.
Last June 2016, I and two other partners opened our own business called Quick Capital Investments Group LLC. The company has been successful from the first month of being in business. It has provided me with income consistently so that I am able to meet my financial obligations. We are now expanding our business to offer Merchant Service Processing.
Aside from working the business, I have been working on pursuing my dream of being a published writer, s, I spend my free time writing novels. I have now finished two novels, "Extra Ordinary Summer" and "Simple Steps to Money Management." I am currently working on my third novel called "On the Run," which is based on a true story. The plan is once I finish my third book to focus on getting my books published.
Because of LEAP, you showed me a clear picture of how I can be successful in life after prison through mentorship, life skills training, Small Business Entrepreneurial Program, counseling and so much more. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and you will always be a part of who I am today.