James Bozeman, Renascence volunteer, has endeared himself to the residents of Renascence with his friendliness, knowledge of the city, and eagerness to help. He regularly drives the men to their medical appointments, to get their ID, to apply for jobs, to a local store, and many other errands. As they drive to their destination, he will often tell the history and stories about various buildings and landmarks throughout town. As a long-time resident of Montgomery, he has plenty stories to share.
He’s also quick to listen to the residents as they share their own stories. He listens with compassion to the residents’ struggles, and rejoices with them in their triumphs. The residents describe him as kind-hearted, understanding, and encouraging. A retired math teacher, he has even offered to help tutor some of the residents as they sharpen their math skills in preparation for the GED.
One of the residents said, “He’s one of my most favorite people I have met in Montgomery.” It is clear how much they appreciate and like him when they talk about James. They talk nonstop about how much he has helped them and how much they enjoy their time with him.
It is also clear that James enjoys meeting and helping the residents. He says he drives them around “to fulfill the purpose of Renascence. To show them that someone cares about their future and supply them with a need they don’t have – transportation.”
When asked if he had a memory of a resident that stands out, he replied, “One of the residents had some medical problems and I took him to the doctor a couple of times. It was obvious that he was mentally going to have problems understanding what was going on, so I stayed with him and helped get him through his appointment. Our conversations about how he got in trouble, how he had benefited from Renascence, and what his plans for the future were certainly left a good and special impression.” He says he has always felt safe and appreciated.
James not only helps our residents with their transportation needs. He also serves on the board of directors. He got involved with Renascence after Nelson Smith, another board member and friend, encouraged him to serve. He has been an asset to Renascence in many ways.
If you would like to meet some interesting men and help fulfill the mission of Renascence, contact us at 334-832-1402 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This time each year, we celebrate Father's Day, an American custom that recognizes the vital role that fathers play in raising our children.
Many of the men in our re-entry program are fathers, for whom Father's Day is very important. In our efforts to assist their transition, we encourage these men to reconnect with their children. We help them by maintaining a structured, drug-free living environment; providing life-skills coaching; and assisting them to obtain employment to regain financial solvency and independence. These measures are essential to restoring them to stable lives, confident in their capacity to care for their families and be good dads. The testimonies and pictures of residents Robert Calvert and Steven Tolar speak to the impact of Renascence on reconnecting with their children.
This Father's Day, please consider donating to Renascence in honor or memory of one or more fathers in your life. Your gift will help our structured re-entry program continue to promote stability and confidence in our men’s lives and revitalize their relationships with their children.
Thank you for your time and consideration, and Happy Father's Day!
Nelson Smith Interim Executive Director
STEPHEN TOLAR Renascence has helped me reunite with my daughter, has taught me responsibility, and is helping me build a better life for myself so I can be a good father and be a productive member of the community.
Stephen Tolar and his daughter
ROBERT CALVERT Because of the opportunity Renascence has given me, I have redeveloped a relationship with my children. The program has given me the life skills I needed to gain back custody of my children.
Renascence wishes to announce the following staffing change: Ty Pelham, our Executive Director, is departing immediately to take another position. Nelson Smith, Renascence Board Chair, will fill in as interim executive director until a replacement is selected.
We thank Ty for his hard work and faithful service to Renascence and wish him the very best in his new position.
Timothy Barkley, a resident at Renascence since October 3, 2016, made his first trip home in years this Mother’s Day and saw his whole family.
It all began with a phone call one Saturday afternoon from his sixteen-year-old son, Tyler, whom he hadn’t seen in 10 years, 8 months, and 4 days, as he was informed by Tyler. “I thought that was the greatest phone call ever,” he recalls. “Until the next day when my twenty year old son, Cole, called. We talk non-stop now. They have grown up to be fine young men, and I’m so proud of them.”
While home, Timothy saw his whole family—mother, daughter Tracey, his brothers, and his grandchildren. “I know this wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Renascence and God,” he said. “Words can’t describe the feeling I am having.”
Timothy describes arriving at Renascence in October, “not knowing what to expect. The fear of failing again was in my mind and I felt hopeless.”
He remembers vividly the first 24 hours, when he got a clean room, food, and clothes, and “most of all, a caring atmosphere.” As the days went by, he “gained confidence that there was hope for someone like me. That I could change my way of thinking and become a responsible member of society. I’ve learned to be responsible and honest through the programs we have. But most of all, I went from hopeless to full hope and excitement for a new way of life.”
“The people responsible for Renascence’s existence [must have] known all the feelings you experience when you get out of prison, the hopes and fears. They know how to teach you responsibility and to do the right thing.”
“As the days passed, I got a job, my driver’s license, and a car. But something was still missing. I was encouraged to contact my family, which I tried to do, but didn’t have much success.” That is, until the “the greatest phone call ever,” described above.
These are the kinds of stories that keep us at Renascence motivated to help these men who have never had, but definitely need, a second chance. In Alabama, men (and women) are still released from prison with $10, a bus ticket, and the clothes on their backs. Without a safe place to go, food, clothes, and the essentials of living on one’s own, those without family support usually go back to prison.
Timothy closed this interview by saying, “I could never tell each and every one of you who are a part of Renascence how much I love you for making this miracle happen in my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for a safe, drug-free home and a second chance at life for me. May God continue to bless Renascence and you, the supporters, and the many more miracles to come. My sons and daughter are actually proud of their Dad.” And we at Renascence are proud of Timothy!
Reprinted from our 2017 Father's Day special mailing
Timothy with his sons on his visit home over Mother’s Day weekend
He traded drugs for art. Former resident Calvin Moore made this exchange after a long hard journey that has a happy ending.
His story has a painful beginning. His father deserted the family when Calvin was 5, and the family moved from Baltimore, Maryland, to Florida, and eventually to Montgomery. After his mother’s death from a gunshot wound when he was 16, Calvin said, “I raised myself.” He lived sometimes with his verbally abusive brother and on the streets, using drugs and being in and out of prison. Somewhere along the way in Montgomery, he met a man named Buck, who became his friend and mentor, and who stuck by him, visiting him in prison during his incarcerations.
During one of these stints in prison, a preacher’s words struck a chord with Calvin and he vowed to change his life. He has done just that. He landed at Renascence on parole in 2012 and stayed a year. During that time, local artist Mark Montoya, taught art classes to the residents, and for Calvin, this took hold in a big way. He continues to paint today in his own studio—a room in 2Cities Church on Lee Street, where he attends services every Sunday. He cleans the church weekly and they have given him a car in addition to this room, where the walls are covered with his paintings, certificates, and other things of value to him.
Asked what during his year at Renascence had the most impact, he didn’t hesitate: “Mr. Wise.” Dereck Wise is our House Superintendent who has been with us since before we opened for residents. An ex-felon and former drug addict himself, Dereck loves and understands these men like someone who hasn’t “been there” himself never could. Calvin said that although he was firm, he always knew that Mr. Wise had his interest at heart and would tolerate no drugs. After he left Renascence in 2013 with a job at Big Lots, Calvin’s friend and mentor Buck helped him find an apartment and led him to 2Cities Church. A few months ago, he was hired to become a weekend House Manager at Renascence, and in addition to his job at Big Lots, this room made it possible for him to follow his passion for painting. Soon he plans to marry a woman whom he met 5 years ago at his apartment building, a woman who “doesn’t even know what drugs look like.” Calvin’s story is a fine example of how the right influence and the right people can turn a person’s life around.
Reprinted from Halfway Home newsletter, Winter 2018