Little by Little, Louisa Puts the Pieces Back Together

Louisa helps customers try on prescription glasses. Even when they wear masks, she can see the smile creases form in the corners of their eyes—that’s when she knows they found a winner, the pair they will take home!

If you met Louisa today, working in a local optometrist’s office, you would never know she was released from prison just two years ago… weeks before the world around her would change, because of COVID.

Louisa earned her optician certificate while she was in prison, hoping it might offer her a path to employment and stability. Two things she didn’t have before she entered prison.

As Louisa describes it, an abusive relationship led to addiction, and then homelessness and the loss of her family connection. She knew her only chance at a life after prison was to figure out how to get sober and become self-reliant. As her release date neared, her counselor suggested Sponsors. She applied and was accepted.

On the day Louisa released from prison, she sat quietly, looking out the window of the car that drove her from prison to Sponsors. The drive was a tearful blur, many tough memories and emotions swirled in her mind. She was anxious and overwhelmed thinking about her life goals. Will I fail? She wondered.

Louisa settled in at Sponsors and took the first job she was offered, working as a housekeeper in a hotel chain. She also participated in every program she thought might help her succeed, which included working with a peer mentor, participating in group counseling, and continuing in a drug treatment program. She was determined!

And then the pandemic shut everything down. She was laid off at work. Her stress and anxiety soared. But Louisa persevered. She dedicated herself to maintaining her sobriety and worked on repairing relationships with family. When she successfully completed Sponsors’ Transitions Program, Louisa’s mother invited her to stay with her, while she planned her next steps.

Within a few months, Louisa found a job that utilized the optician training she received in prison. Little by little, the pieces began falling into place.

Today, Louisa lives with her partner and together they are setting new goals for the future. She is proud knowing she has accomplished everything she wanted to when she left prison.

Louisa and hundreds of other formerly incarcerated people begin their unique reentry journey here at Sponsors. Thank you for continuing to offer your support, even—and especially during—an unpredictable global pandemic.