How the Founder of rise went from homelessness to winning A $100K Haile Fellowship grant

I was ashamed of how low I’d gotten... but now I’m 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. Toward the end of my active 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? 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. I found a place that understood what I was going through and really helped me to start healing. With intense counseling, substance abuse treatment, and a burning desire to stay sober, I committed myself to recovery and worked a program every day to find my 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 built a life of purpose, and that has been the key to keeping my disease in remission. 

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

So welcome to RISE! For the first time anywhere in the US, we are able to go directly inside the jail to distribute our newspaper. We publish stories of hope, recovery, and inspiration. We provide community resources that are vetted to make sure they're actually consistent, and we help reentering citizens to plan for a better future. Please join us in our efforts and share your story, your time, or any other talent you'd like to contribute. It’s our community. Let’s work together to make a difference!

-Tracy