Timeeka is what my mother named me when I was born into this world. But by age 15, my nickname was BLACK when I entered the prison system. Growing up as a child I had everything I needed except my mother and father. Although I had loving caring grandparents, I always wanted attention and love from my biological parents. Growing up the oldest sibling was bitter sweet. I was in charge of the household while my grandparents worked long hours. It was sweet because I learned how to take care of my siblings and was able to put a smile on their faces even though we were all struggling. It was bitter because it meant I missed out on my teenage years. No school formals, no after school activities, and no hobbies because I was more focused on my siblings than myself.
I was considered an adult before my sweet 16 birthday and nothing was sweet about that year.
At the age of fifteen, I was sentenced to 90 days at Grace Cottage Facility for teenagers. I was the youngest in the building. I heard many different stories from the other teenagers and it made me want to be just like them even though it was criminal behavior. To be honest, I was more comfortable in the system than at home because I was able to be myself while incarcerated. I didn’t have any responsibilities for no one but myself and I found peace. Once released with no support system, I started shoplifting for myself and siblings. It gave me money in my pockets and I was able to support my siblings. We were no longer singled out or teased by others. We were no longer considered homeless. In 2009 I was sentenced to 3 years in prison for a shoplifting charge that turned into a robbery for using excessive force. You would think that after 3 years I would have learned from my past mistakes, but the system just helped me analyze more ways to get away with criminal behavior. Then, my grandmother passed away in 2012, 10 months after I was released. I had no Mom or Dad as support – just me, my siblings and a criminal background. I turned to the streets for money and support. January 1, 2017 I gave birth to stillborn twins. I became depressed, and emotionally scared. I started self-medicating myself with ecstasy pills just to be happy and less depressed but that did not help my inner spirits. In 2018 I was sentenced to 2 years for aggravated possession.
June 2019, I was sent to work release at the Hazel D. Plant Women’s Treatment Facility. Immediately I started working at the Friendship House Clothing Bank. I loved everything about the place. The way they helped others, the way they talked to me and most importantly I learned who I was really born to be. I can’t explain the energy in writing but let’s just say I felt the love, peace and support I never could find elsewhere. God works in mysterious ways. Whoever would have thought my last mistake would be my testimony! Today I am part of the Friendship House family. I am now a full time employee at the Clothing Bank where I help women each day accomplish their short and long term goals. I’m now a consistent key player in my brother’s life and school activities. I’m no longer taking risks to provide for myself and siblings, instead I am slowly trusting the process and allowing myself to help others step closer to their goal, as well as mine. I am happy and at peace in my life right now and I thank God and the Friendship House!
It’s not that I didn’t want to change, each time I was released from prison, I didn’t have the support system to change.
The Friendship House was my support system this go round and look at me now! Friendship House has played a major part in my change and in my journey. I am forever grateful for Ms. Cheryl, Ms. Kim and Ms. Robin. They saw the eager in me and allowed me to bring it into reality. My advice is “be patient with yourself and love yourself unconditionally regardless of your struggle.”