A Televerde Graduate Profile: Ashley Cruz

With 70% of Televerde’s workforce behind prison walls, we’ve found that pre- and post-incarceration support programs are vital to ensure successful community reintegration. Televerde, in partnership with the Televerde Foundation, aim to provide this to currently and formerly incarcerated women with training, education and personal and professional development programs.

Today, roughly 40% of the employees at our corporate office in Phoenix, AZ are graduates of our Prison Workforce Development Program. That makes for a lot of success stories. Here’s one of them from our Marketing Technology Manager, Ashley Cruz.

Did you have prior business experience?
Yes, I worked in a few positions across retail and customer service prior to joining the Televerde team but my main job was a housewife. While the exposure to working with a variety of individuals helped me pick-up the necessary skills to be successful at Televerde, it was very different as Televerde focused not only on upskilling for a position but also had the added goal of improving my personal life. There are no training programs like the one I went through to join Televerde. It was hard. But so worth it.

How did working for Televerde set you apart within the corrections facility?
It renewed my hope and helped me to focus on what I really wanted. People say all the time about how Televerde team members could be spotted in a crowd but it’s true. Televerde reminded me to dig deep and to remember who I am. I was reminded that I am the maker of my own destiny and even in the darkest of places, my life is valuable, and my choices have an impact. How many people can say that they went to prison and left with a career? I was given that opportunity and embraced it wholeheartedly. Working for Televerde helped me to make the changes I needed, but also gave me the ability to help others to be more than who they were told they were. It’s a domino effect.

How has Televerde’s pre- and post-support programs helped you reintegrate into society?
There have been days where I thought I can’t do this. I have so much support but even your closest supporters do not understand what it is like to feel like you were ripped from one world and transplanted into another and then placed back into that original world and told to act as if nothing changed. On the outside you might look the same, but the inside is changed forever. The members of Televerde’s reentry support program know what it is like. They understand what you are feeling and experiencing even before you do. That support mixed with my friends and family help me to re-center and to know that I can do this. That every challenge can be overcome. It’s one step and one breath at a time. And every day is a new adventure filled with ups and downs but I’m doing it. It’s life and it’s beautiful.

How has your life after incarceration benefited because of reentry services?
I’m still free. Because of the guidance and encouragement that I receive through Televerde I know I can succeed. Life isn’t perfect but it doesn’t have to be. While I have room for improvement just like everyone else, I have grown leaps and bounds from where I was. I’m experiencing and doing so many “firsts” and even though they can be scary, that fear doesn’t hold me back. And if I think it might, there are so many amazing women who give me advice and help me keep going. It was very traumatic filing taxes for the first time, buying my home and vehicle, figuring out a real budget or buying insurance but the ladies were and are there to help me through it without a complete breakdown. That type of support is a treasure!

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