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“The Little Things Are What Really Make The Difference”

Jerry served 25 years and was released in January 2020.

“To be honest, when I first heard about Bonafide I didn’t see the need,” said Jerry. I was planning to go back to LA.  That all changed when I was forced to change plans and stay in the Bay Area and then I really needed Bonafide.”

Q – What surprised you first (while still incarcerated)?

They were on it from the beginning on how to prepare for my release, ID, housing, medical–everything I needed to start over.

Q – How was Day One?

I don’t know how to put it in words, you look forward to it, but don’t have any idea what to expect.

It was a total relief when R&R told me two hours before release that someone was waiting for me. David was waiting outside the gate.

He took me to a restaurant and showed me how to use the phone he had given me. Within hours of leaving, I was learning how to connect with my family and friends.

Q – What do you want to see?

Being in SF was like being in Egypt. David let us stop at the Golden Gate Bridge and take a picture.  I took the picture and send it to my family while I was on the phone with them. 

I was blown away by all the CHOICES I had from breakfast to shopping for clothes.

He was showing me how to use my debit card and clipper card – things I have never done before.

Next, we went to a Target to get my own set of clothes– just that fact, I was able to choose my own clothes – a first in so many years, WOW.

Q – Why was that important to you?

Others seem to think you can adjust on the fly.  I needed time to adjust to the world–I worried I was taking too much of David’s time.

“Take your time we are in no hurry,” David said with a smile.

To be honest, he was willing to show me the whole city, but it was getting overwhelming, I wanted to settle down and he took me to my transitional housing.

Q – Did Bonafide follow up?

David made a date for him and Becca and a few guys in the transition house to take BART, MUNI, and use the Clipper card. The first time I took BART was crazy – I thought I’ll never figure this out – I did get lost a few times. BL made sure I had the tools to deal with it–this phone does everything!

Now I go through three cities to go to my job and I’m able to help others with directions–Paying it forward.

Q – Did COVID-19 change things?

Shortly after I got out, the pandemic hit, and we couldn’t go anywhere – unless you had a job.  The only place I could go was Delorse park and do my Zoom computer class. It was my classes at Bonafide that made it possible for me to take an online class.

Every week we took a computer class in Oakland – I took BART and learned the system.

That computer class prepared me for my school classes – that allowed me to take online classes.

The best was I knew, Bonafide would always be there when I needed them.  I called Dave because I had to submit it by midnight and he helped me figure it out. It was past 10 pm and he said call ANYTIME. We took a Zoom together and he helped me

He was there for me.

Q – What advice would you give others preparing for freedom?

The little things are really what make the difference – this is what rehabilitation really is after you get out – that’s the disconnect with the system.

I was really having problems with little things like submitting my assignment online.  That’s what reintegrating people into society means.

I would not be in the place I am now without the help of Bonafide.