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September 9, 2019

After attending several months of group settings in the New Beginnings group, I can without reservations state that the overall impact of the program is one of healing. On numerous occasions I have witnessed men confronting their own past behaviors and the behaviors of others and eventually arriving at a place of peace.

Truth, compassion and understanding are the hallmarks of the program and more importantly the volunteers who show up without fail. The volunteers never seem to judge program participants but do provide frank and thoughtful feedback.

One of the most amazing aspects of the program is how gradually every participant lowers their “protective wall” and allows themselves to be vulnerable. Opening up to what amounts to a room full of strangers is not an easy exercise, but because care and concern are espoused by the staff members from day 1, every participant I’ve known has eventually gotten “gut level” honest and shared true feelings. On many occasions there is not a dry eye in the room. Please understand that the tears are not only part of the process as the staff and participants lift up and support everyone in the room.

In this concrete and steel fortress of destroyed and interrupted lives, New Beginnings is an oasis of peace. Every time I leave to return to my housing unit I am uplifted and inspired.

Looking at what New Beginnings and Next Step actually accomplishes is more impactful than what is seen at first glance. While the group meetings refresh and inspire those of us who participate, the tangible benefits are even greater. Many of us take what we experience and learn in our group sessions and transmit it to other inmates and our family members. I call this the spider web effect. Twice weekly, we absorb positive thoughts and emotionally charged support and it carries us through the entire week.


Eric Harris