How long has it been since you were released?
It has been almost 18 years since my release from prison. I was released Oct. 2, 2000, and I still remember my TDCJ number: 744154.
Describe your life today.
My life today is totally opposite of what my life looked like 18 years ago. I am married to a wonderfully loving, supportive and handsome man. I am a new homeowner, a new general manager, and I am a volunteer behind bars facilitator for Truth Be Told. My life is full. I work in Houston, I live in Kyle, and I volunteer for Truth Be Told in Gatesville once a week. Yes, I know that’s a lot.
What do you do for a living and what do you find most rewarding about your job?
I work for Moody National Companies in the hospitality division as the general manager of the Hampton Inn in Houston. The most rewarding thing about my job is watching team members discover and reach their potential by creating an environment that is conducive to growth and creativity and that allows them to do the things that make them happy. I work mostly with women, and watching them grow as team members is the most rewarding thing I do in my work.
Tell us about the volunteer work you do and why you do it.
I am a volunteer program facilitator with Truth Be Told. I go into the prison once a week to facilitate the Talk to Me Speaking class, where the women create a 5- to 7-minute speech about their life experiences and choices that led to their incarceration. I do this work because I know all too well what prison feels like because my story has several chapters of incarceration in it. I want to be a beacon of hope and light to any woman who has a desire to change.
What did you gain from Truth Be Told?
I was very fortunate to have witnessed the curriculum modeled by the founders of the organization even before there was a class or the creation of Truth Be Told. Truth Be Told gave me a template for life. I could edit this template as I saw what worked and what didn’t, and I was given the opportunity and the grace to make mistakes and not be judged or ridiculed. I gained tools to live the life I have always dreamed of.
Why are organizations like Truth Be Told important and worth supporting?
Truth Be Told is a life raft to a community of women who are forgotten. While we are frowned upon by society, we get released back into society with no way of coping with the life we left or tools to create the life we would like to live. Truth Be Told offers tools every week in the classrooms by teaching women they have a voice; they deserve to be in a safe community. They also learn what a safe community looks like and how to care for themselves, instead of sacrificing their well-being and freedom for others in the name of love and acceptance.
Is there anything you want people to know about you or Truth Be Told that these questions didn’t address?
The process that takes place in the classroom with the women is not easy; it is hard work. After the women go through the process of sharing their stories, you can see a visible change in their physical appearance. Most of the women who participate in the programs are longing to be shown how to live a life that is safe and free, and until Truth Be Told comes along, there is nothing offered to address this strong desire. Because of Truth Be Told, I am now able to speak my truth in love, be fearless in my loving of others and be equally open to accept love in return. Prison can’t and won’t teach these important values.
Honor Rutanya by helping Truth Be Told raise $30,000 in 10 Days between Sept 15-24. All gifts made during this 10-day campaign will DOUBLE in size, thanks to a matching pledge of up to $30,000! Your gift will ensure that Truth Be Told continues to provide safe community and healing programs to nearly 1,000 justice-involved women every year! Click on $30,000 in 10 Days to make your gift today!
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