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