On April 2nd, 2021, Anitra Clark was released from prison after serving 26 years. Anitra entered prison as an 18-year-old and was now ready to transition back into society. This transition included becoming a resident at A New Way of Life Reentry Project (ANWOL), which provides housing, case management, pro bono legal services, advocacy, and leadership development for people rebuilding their lives after prison. Core to ANWOL’s mission is the belief that every person has inherent value and holds the power of possibility within, which is why the organization offers a robust workforce development program.
Though Anitra had earned many certifications (including Electronic Technician Certification and Paralegal/ Legal Assistant Certification) and worked as an Administrative Assistant, an HIV/STI Peer Educator Counselor, and an Electrician while incarcerated, she experienced significant employment barriers post-incarceration. Anitra turned to Bernard Wilson, the Director of Workforce Development & Education at ANWOL, whom Anitra refers to as her “guardian angel,” to help navigate the path forward. In their meetings together, Anitra recognized that the first step was to improve her computer skills, stating that after spending her entire adult life in prison, “What was simple for others wasn’t simple for me.” She needed help and wasn’t afraid to ask for it.
Bernard had recently met with Eleanor Comegys, the Student Outreach Navigator at Evans Community Adult School, and learned that Evans would be offering an online Computer Essentials class during the summer session.
The Computer Essentials class helped Anitra improve her skills in Microsoft Office. She appreciated that the instructor, Buu Vien, was understanding, patient, and available “all the time.” Anitra enjoyed connecting with other students in class, and this opportunity was also an essential step in transitioning back into society.
After completing the class, Christ-Centered Ministries hired Anitra as a Client Aide. Anitra says the transition to her new job was “seamless,” and the training at Evans was vital as she regularly uses the laptop and Microsoft Office in her role. With the support of Bernard Wilson along with the computer skills learned at Evans, Anitra enrolled in Long Beach Community College to complete her AA Degree in Business.
Anitra now knows that she wants to work in the community, be of service, and eventually rise to a leadership position. A New Way of Life and LA Unified Adult Education have helped pave the way forward for Anitra’s determination to do, as she says, “incredible things.”
For more information on A New Way of Life, please visit: anewwayoflife.org