A New Home, and a New Start

Marvin McKinnely developed many relationships while serving his nearly five-decade sentence in Deuel Vocational Institution, which is located in Tracy, California. While in custody, Mr. McKinnely developed close bonds with several of the inmates and from these relationships, there were a few “I Got Yo Back” bonds formed. Although originally from Louisiana, when Mr. McKinnely was released he was under supervision in Alameda County, where he knew very few people. Although he could not remember all of the people he met while incarcerated, he thought back to some of those bonds that he had established.

After searching for employment and housing, Mr. McKinnely was introduced to BOSS’s Career Training and Employment Center (CTEC) in 2016 by Mr. Nathaniel ‘Shahid’ Rouse whom he met in 1979 while incarcerated. Since his release, Shahid has worked as a case manager for several organizations, but he recommended that Mr. McKinnely reach out to BOSS. After being introduced to the CTEC team, Mr. McKinnely is affectionately referred to as Walk-A-Lot.

Shahid told Walk-A-Lot that BOSS and its staff understood the challenges associated with being incarcerated and the resultant social barriers for returning citizens. Shahid also let Walk-A-Lot know that he would not be judged, but would be joining the BOSS family and would be exposed to a great many resources.

Before finally joining, Walk-A-Lot wandered in and around the CTEC Campus until he decided to enroll and participate in The Innovations Project – a reentry collaboration between Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency (BOSS) and The Asian Prisoner Support Committee (APSC). Innovations was designed to assist returning citizens with Cultural Competency, Humility, Workforce Development, and Long-term affordable housing that would ultimately support a successful Prison-to-Reentry-to-Leadership transition. The program also aimed to negate criminogenic risks and need factors shown to increase recidivism.

Throughout the process, Mr. McKinnely has remained engaged with BOSS services and was recently connected to affordable housing through BOSS’s Rapid Re-Housing Program. With the support of BOSS Housing Specialist Lisa Soriano and after a nearly two-year fight to gain housing, on Tuesday November 20, 2018, Mr. McKinnely received the keys to his own one-bedroom apartment where he will be able to enjoy the safe confines and luxuries afforded to the average citizen. Walk-A-Lot can walk around in a space that he may now call “Home”.

This collaboration and connection to services exemplify the work and dedication of BOSS to its community. Walk-A-Lot will now be able to Rest-A Lot knowing that he has the tools to be self-sufficient!

To support second chances by training or hiring BOSS participants, contact Clyde Lewis, BOSS Director of Workforce Development, at 510.419.0669 or clewis@self-sufficiency.org.

To donate, volunteer, or invite someone from BOSS to speak to your group, contact Sonja Fitz, Director of Development & Marketing, at 510.649.1930 x 1008 or sfitz@self-sufficiency.org.

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