Starting Over And Giving Back! - Daily Love with Mastin Kipp

Starting Over And Giving Back!

tlm icon-1In prison, “program” is the term used to describe someone’s set schedule. Waking up at 5am, going to chow, off to work, count time (prison’s method for taking attendance) at 4pm, evening chow, etc. In society, “routine” is the term used to describe someone’s set schedule. I know this because my wife, La Vonda, teased me one day when I said, “Now that I’m working at Rally.org I can set a regular program. Her response was something like, “It’s called a routine out here.”

Well, I guess it is fair to say that I now have a regular routine. I awake at 6am, an hour later than I awoke in prison. At 6:45ish, I make my wife and I a green smoothie for breakfast. By 8:15am, I am ready to leave the house and head to work.

I take public transportation into the fast-paced extension of Silicon Valley, the bustling city of San Francisco. My BART ride is forty-five minutes. I don’t mind the ride, it gives me time to check emails, read, or work on other tasks.

From door to door, my commute is around an hour and twenty-five minutes, depending on traffic and parking availability at the Bart station. I arrive to the office between 9:35-9:50am. I enjoy a late morning cup of green tea as I begin my work day.

Everyone at Rally is welcoming, supportive, and flat out awesome. They have made me feel like part of the family. At noon, lunch is served and we all eat together in the kitchen or in other various sitting areas. Between 2-3pm a few of us will walk to grab coffee together in an effort to fight the early afternoon “nap bug” that attacks the office. And at some point during the day we participate in an in-house ping-pong tournament. I lost my first game to Kaitlin, who is also an intern at Rally. Rally has a great company culture and is a great place to work.

I have had the pleasure to sit in on a few informative meetings with the product, engineering, and marketing teams. Some of the technical language used in those meetings have been over my head, but somehow I leave out of the meetings feeling like I just learned something very valuable for my future.

Before I interviewed with Rally, the thought of what I had to offer a tech start-up company never crossed my mind. I was more focused on the learning opportunities that Rally would provide. I viewed it as an opportunity to receive a sort of on-the-job MBA learning program while also earning an income.

However, immediately after leaving the interview, I was so impressed by the work Rally was doing and by how they were providing so many people the opportunity to raise money for causes that mattered to them. I began to think about how I could contribute to such an impactful platform. I wanted to be a part of the Rally movement and to help others raise funds for worthy causes. Rally is a natural fit for me as it has provided me a way to pay forward the opportunities that I have been given.

I am using Rally to raise funds for a cause that matters to me. My rally is designed to assist graduates of The Last Mile with their first sixty days back into society. Although TLM will help graduates acquire employment upon their release, they will have immediate needs that TLM is not currently providing. These needs include money for housing, clothing, transportation, communication devices, and healthy diets. The funds I raise will help these vetted graduates transition more smoothly.

I can’t speak for all prisoners, but I think it is fair to say that many prisoners would love the opportunity to give back to society in a meaningful way. For me personally, being released from prison is just a portion of what freedom really is about. Giving back to society, after taking from society, in a meaningful and impactful way is the ultimate freedom.

My workday ends somewhere between 5-5:30pm. I catch BART back across the Bay and head home. I arrive home around 6:40pm. I eat dinner, allow my food to digest for an hour, then head to the gym for an hour or so. I then return home, check for emails and try to get some reading in. My night usually ends around 11:30pm. I awake the next morning around the same time and repeat the “routine” again.

I am grateful every day, trading my “program” for a “routine”.  It is truly liberating.

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Heracio Harts is a Graduate of  The Last Mile  and was released from San Quentin State Prison on March 12, 2013 and is now working as an intern for Rally.org.