Our city is full of intelligent, driven individuals who are working towards a better future through policy changes and advocacy. Sometimes, the best way to make an impact is through the simple — but vital — practice of sharing stories.
Last week, the ACT (A Chance to Thrive) Initiative hosted a dinner to gather returning citizens, DC policymakers, and partner organizations to have a meaningful conversation about reentry. Returning citizens were able to share their own lived experiences of coming home from incarceration with people in the city who have power to make real changes.
Returning citizens participating in Thrive DC’s Real Opps culinary employment program prepared a dinner of chicken wings, mac and cheese, and dessert. With the table set, individuals from all different backgrounds came together to discuss what re-entry in DC is really like, what barriers make it hard coming home from incarceration, and what policies and programs could make it better.
Throughout the event, the sounds of constant conversation filled the hall. Even though there was no specific agenda, many people stayed after the event to continue the conversation. People traded contact information and promised to stay in touch — individuals who would have otherwise never crossed paths.
We are eager to create more opportunities where constituents from all over the District can discuss the important issues of reentry. Our mission remains the same: to erase the stigma associated with returning citizens so that they can have a smooth and successful transition back into society. Stay tuned for more events like this in the coming months!