You may remember Michael from an article published in May 2020. Michael was incarcerated for over seven years for drug-related charges before securing housing at the Catholic Charities Ponderosa House Community Re-Entry Program.
His housing placement came just four days before release. It was a blessing, as well as a condition of his parole. Without Ponderosa House, Michael would have immediately gone back into incarceration.
Michael’s probation also stipulated the completion of 360 community service hours. He put his crafty hands to work knitting scarves and hats for those experiencing homelessness. Then as COVID-19 progressed, Michael sewed hundreds of reusable masks that the Catholic Charities team distributed throughout Northern Arizona.
His story continues with a remarkable update: Michael is being released from probation SIX YEARS early!
He was on probation for just over a year and was able to successfully complete all terms and conditions in December 2020. This is an impressive six years sooner than Michael’s original sentence. The decision was made based on the outstanding efforts he showed to re-enter society and his potential for long-term stability.
If that’s not enough to celebrate, Michael has also been awarded ongoing financial support by the Social Security Administration. This accomplishment comes after spending countless hours with the Arizona Department of Economic Security over the past year.
Lexie Weeks, the case manager who continues to assist Michael, states, “Michael constantly looks to be a positive change for people around him every day. This includes supporting small businesses, finding ways to help other people in the community, and encouraging those he can’t help to go to Catholic Charities for supportive services.”
Without the housing opportunity at Ponderosa House at his release, Michael may not have had a stable home on which to build his successes. Per program guidelines, residents are able to stay in the house as long as they need to in order to set themselves up for success. This includes after they have completed probation.
Michael has applied to multiple housing programs that fit within his budget and is waiting for a unit to become available. He plans to stay at Ponderosa House until that time.
He constantly expresses his appreciation for the program. “While his success has been a product of his own hard work, Michael attributes his ability to succeed directly to having stable housing through the Catholic Charities Jail Re-Entry Program,” shares Weeks.
Catholic Charities applauds Michael’s efforts and is thrilled to be a stepping stone on his path.