From the Slums of a Prison Yard- *Erin’s Story
July 6, 2021
In 2016, *Erin was sentenced to eight years in prison for crimes she committed to support her lifestyle of severe alcohol and drug addiction. Her three teenage daughters endured years of what she refers to as “functional alcoholism” and were forced to raise each other.
In prison, the atmosphere was filled with depression, shame, guilt, and hatred. Changes seemed impossible behind those walls, and rehabilitation is nearly non-existent among prisoners. Erin lived in despair for two years. She was desperate to find hope, and eventually surrendered to God. In Erin’s words, this is when He took over her life.
Erin devoured the Bible and engulfed herself in every church group offered at the prison. She couldn’t get enough of Jesus. She was ridiculed by other inmates, but she kept going to Bible study groups and seeking God. In one such group, the participants had permanent group assignments with volunteer mentors from outside the prison. Over the weeks, they shared their stories and passion for God. In one group meeting, Erin mentioned that she was seeking parole, but didn’t have anywhere to go once leaving prison. Her group mentor told her about Bridge of Hope. She applied and participated in phone interviews over a period of several months. Erin recently shared that at the time, she couldn’t believe she was even being considered for a program like Bridge of Hope. When she learned that she has been accepted by Bridge of Hope she remembers,
“I fell on my face and cried to God. I am a convicted felon. I was in prison and it’s been four years since I’ve lived normally. I don’t have a job to pay the rent, I have nothing. I am nobody who deserves this.
For Erin, even though it seemed unbelievable, Bridge of Hope was as wonderful as she had imagined. Right after being released from prison, she met one of her neighboring volunteers and her Bridge of Hope Case Manager. The Bridge of Hope staff and the network of volunteers were nothing like she had ever experienced. Erin was blown away when she saw her new, fully furnished apartment ready and waiting for her thanks to one of Bridge of Hope’s housing partners. In a matter of a few hours, Erin went from being in prison to having a home for her and her youngest daughter and a community of support.
When Erin was in prison, she would see women with good intentions released from prison, but within months they would return because of drugs or a bad relationship. Erin believes that the supportive community she found through Bridge of Hope made all the difference for her and is the reason she has been successful since leaving prison. Her neighboring volunteers and everyone at Bridge of Hope believed in Erin and their confidence gave her the courage to believe in herself.
“It still bewilders me that Bridge of Hope would take a chance on somebody like me and have genuine faith that I’d succeed against all odds.
Erin recently started job making in healthcare making $20 an hour. Before going to prison, Erin had a license in radiography, which was suspended when she lost her freedom. Since leaving prison she has reapplied to take the boards to reinstate her license. She has also gotten her driver’s license again, for the first time since 2006.
Eric is quick to say that God that has changed her life, but He’s used her community through Bridge of Hope to do His leg work. Bridge of Hope gave her the chance that ultimately saved her life. Erin is confident that while she doesn’t know what God has planned for her, she knows that it will be something incredible.
“He took me from the slums of the prison yard, poured out His grace all over me, and put me in Bridge of Hope.”
Erin hopes to support Bridge of Hope and become a neighboring volunteer to other moms in the program herself. She prays that God uses her to show the kind of hope and new life that she was given through Bridge of Hope to other women.
*Some details have been changed.