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.

 

  • Susan

    Heracio,
    Thank you for sharing your appreciation for your new “routine” and life. Posts like yours have opened my heart to seeing prison inmates in a more loving and non-judging light. Your words are profound and help to liberate my own stuckness when I think about paying life forward. Transitions are alway up and down. Your vision/plan to help other inmates will be an excellent and fruitful adventure. A wonderful opportunity for everyone to experience support and inclusiveness.

    Love and light to you and yours

    Susan

  • cinnamon

    Thank you for sharing your story with us and your strengths with others. You have much to offer – I hope the growth continues and the gratitude, and the posts.

  • jaime

    Excellent story, and thanks for taking a stand. You will carry the torch for others to follow.

  • tedge

    GREAT JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Beacon Of Light

    Heracio Hart,

    You reveal to all who read this how lucky we are in life as the ordinary is the extra-ordinary. I was tiring of the “structure or routine”. You have inequitably instilled new found respect & admiration for what I took for granted. Never again! I have done a lot of work in the prison system in my country(Australia) as a subcontractor in the past & I learnt the statistics for re-offending & ending back in a cell are, approximately 70% within six weeks of release. The prisons are overcrowded & overflowing(they were going to build a “mega prison” here with a capacity for over 6000 prisoners & the gov’t was told in no uncertain terms by the Prison Officer’s union NO. It is a big issue here that is not widely known as I was unofficially informed there are over 15,000 outstanding warrants for serious jailable crimes & yet the police have their hands tied as there is nowhere to house them). They are given so much support here by the government, pre-release and afterwards & it saddens me to see that is all they come to know & then to only fall back into their old ways.
    Where I’m heading here is I feel you could be such a amazing motivational “Freedom” coach/speaker/mentor for those behind bars as you have experienced what they have been through & correct me if I’m wrong they may listen to you as an inspiration of what can be through the “connection” you have? I don’t know how you’d do this or if it’s possible or something you’d enjoy doing as you’ve integrated yourself successfully back into society. Congratulations for being a beacon of shining light & example of why the simple things in life are the best..