How I went from living destitute
and homeless to winning A $100K Haile Fellowship grant

For every bit as ashamed I was for how low I had gotten, I am much more proud of how far I’ve come.
— Tracy Brumfield
 

Addiction is a real disease that usually causes the afflicted to act in ways he or she normally would not; and I was no exception. Towards the end of my opiate addiction, I experienced incarceration, homelessness, and was panhandling to survive.

So how does someone go from living like that to thriving in our community? Well, it didn't happen overnight. I really wanted to be sober and turn my life around,  but I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. So I reached out for help. That’s a small sentence, but a tall order. Realizing that I was powerless felt very scary and vulnerable. Fortunately, I got lucky, and found a place that understood what I was going through and really helped me to start healing. With intense counseling, mental health and substance abuse treatment, along with a burning desire to stay sober, I committed myself to recovery and worked a program everyday to engage back into life again.  

After working for over two years at recovery, I began to volunteer and mentor women incarcerated in the Hamilton County Justice Center. I even got a new job working as an aide at the Center for Addiction Treatment. Between volunteering and working for a recovery center, I found that I had built a life of purpose, and I think that has been the key to keeping my disease in remission. 

While volunteering in the jail, I had the idea to create RISE. I go into the jail every Sunday and spend time talking with as many women as I can, but I realized there were so many more people there not getting support, or access to community resources. I want to let them know they are not alone, and there is help, and hope, waiting for them when they get out. Thankfully, the great folks at People’s Liberty and the Haile Foundation recognized the importance of providing this kind of information to our incarcerated citizens, and now here we are, joining together to make this project a reality!

So welcome to RISE! For the first time ever, we'll have the opportunity to go directly inside the jail to distribute our newspaper. We'll be sharing and telling stories of hope, recovery, and inspiration. We'll be providing community resources not normally found in traditional places, and helping those about to get out to plan for a better future. Please join us in our efforts and share your story, your time, or any other resources you like to contribute. It’s our community. Let’s work together to make a difference!

-Tracy