Mellisa’s Story

I’m Mellisa, and I am a graduate of the Clothing Bank CEO Program.

I’ll start this story by saying I was arrested in 2002 when I was 29 years old. I went to prison for 20 years and 5 months, and then I was transferred to the Work Release facility (Hazel D Plant) in 2022. I spent 3 1/2 months there and in that time I got to work at Friendship House Clothing Bank. I was so standoffish at first, questioning why the people at the Clothing Bank were so nice to me and cared about me. I didn’t believe they truly wanted to help me reenter back into society, and I was worried because things had changed so much in my 20 years in prison. I had a lot of fears too – like being recognized, being safe, and learning how to make the changes in myself. I knew I would need to deal with how much people and society had changed.  The Clothing Bank provided a safe place, they never judged me, and they slowly taught me a lot of the things I hadn’t learned. I remember when they told me I had to take baby steps before I could walk – that was so true. I really had to pump my brakes!

I stayed at the Clothing Bank after I was released, then a few months later I left for a job in a restaurant. I thought I was fine and I could do everything on my own. It didn’t turn out how I thought it would be. Ms. Cheryl stayed in touch after I left the Clothing Bank, and she was able to give me support and advice and help me get through the problems I encountered, including the restaurant closing and being transferred to a different one. The Clothing Bank became my safe place and still, to this day, remains to be. The people there are so supportive and genuinely strive to help me accomplish my goals and achievements. Now, with hard work and the support of my friends at the Clothing Bank, I have a good job, a place of my own, and am working on an apprenticeship in culinary arts. I was selected to attend the National Restaurant Association’s Hospitality Pathways Conference in Washington DC where I’ll participate in interactive sessions led by national experts – I’m so excited. I hope to get my driver’s license and a car soon, and I’m also finishing up my Associate’s Degree in Human Services.  I have big dreams and am so proud of all I’ve accomplished so far. Thank you Friendship House for all you have done for me.

3 Comments on "Mellisa’s Story"

  • Melissa,

    Thank you for sharing your amazing story. Stay encouraged!!! Enjoy this new chapter of your live filled with opportunities to rebuild and thrive. Your resilience and strength are amazing. You have the power to create a meaningful life ahead. Stay strong and believe in yourself, you’ve already shown incredible courage! I believe in you!


  • You should be very proud of your success! Friendship House does provide wonderful support! Best of luck for your future!

  • Melissa,
    Your story sounds so much like mine. I am also a recipient of the love and support that The Friendship House Organization provides to so many men and women. I wish you all the best on this new journey and remember to keep a good support network around you.

    Leakita M.

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