Second chances for formerly incarcerated moms

- Every moment of every day, Crystal Roldan thinks about how grateful she is because, she says, if she didn't come to Hour Children, she doesn't know where she or her daughter would be.

A few years ago, Crystal had no idea what her life would be like or even that she'd have a daughter. She was on drugs, had gotten arrested for a burglary she didn't remember committing, and was 5 weeks pregnant but didn't know it. When she first found out she was pregnant, her first thought was "This can't be happening. I shouldn't be having a baby."

Today, Crystal is a proud working-mom, out of jail and off drugs. And she is about to go to cosmetology school. It's all thanks to Hour Children, a program for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children.

Crystal has been home over a year and a half and has had a full time job at Hour Children for a year. Before going to prison, she says, she couldn't maintain a job for more than a week. Prison saved her life, but she says that Hour Children saved her future.

Based in Long Island City, Queens, Hour Children provides housing, employment, and day care services, giving women and their families second chances.

Karen Jaime says going to Hour Children straight from jail was the best thing that happened to her and helped her realize her worth. She now has a beautiful 2-year-old daughter. Thanks to Hour Children she can bring her daughter to day care, and head straight to work. Karen says that help is so comforting.

Hour Children is in it for the long haul.

Traci Leach has been with the program for two decades. Traci says she has been through quite a journey in the last 20 years. She has been back to prison numerous times, and this is her third time back at Hour Children. This time, she says she is staying.

Traci has been off drugs for over 6 years and is living a full life that includes time with her children and grandchildren, and a job. First and foremost, Traci says, when she opens her eyes and is no longer in a cage, no longer in jail, she just looks around and sees flowers on her wall and a window with no bars, and smiles.

www.hourchildren.org

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