A HOME PROVIDES SUPPORT, LOVE, AND SAFETY FOR EX-OFFENDERS
``One day at a time'' says a little sign in the living room here at Our New Beginnings. This huge Victorian house with purple trim on Hoyt Street in Portland, Ore., is home to 27 women, some of whom have never had a home before. They are ex-offenders trying to turn their lives around. ``Our New Beginnings meant life for me rather than living death,'' says Rosemary Popp, a former resident who is now a case manager on ONB's staff. Giving a visitor a tour of the house, she talks about how she kicked a 20-year drug addiction. ``This was a safe place where I could turn my life around,'' she recalls. ``I had no hope of ever functioning in society other than in jail, but Carole did,'' she says, speaking of Carole Pope, ONB's executive director.
The transition starts with believing in yourself and accepting help to bring quality to your life, Ms. Popp continues. You need to be ``willing to learn how to love yourself.''
In an upstairs kitchen, a few women volunteer to talk about their experiences. One tells of coming to Our New Beginnings in June. She recently lost a brother and then had a stillborn baby. ``I probably couldn't have handled it without the support and love here,'' says Debbie, an ex-offender. What has helped most has been structure and learning how to manage time, she says - ``having the consistency in your life and a safe place.''
``The part of Carol I've seen has been nothing but caring; a whole bunch of love,'' she says of Pope. ``She realizes the hardship we have to go through to get accepted back into society, and she smooths the path.''