Idioma de la pagina:
Leer en Español
Project Return Peer Support Network
Taking Charge Together!

Incarceration and Empowerment: Leading by Example through Peer Support

Incarceration and Empowerment: Leading by Example through Peer Support | Project Return Peer Support Network

Jose Zapata's life is a tapestry woven with threads of resilience, transformation, and an unyielding dedication to guiding others through the shadows of their own pasts.

His journey began in the confines of incarceration, where he confronted his inner struggles with courage born from necessity.Through self-reflection, Jose unearthed the profound influence of mental health on his behavior and choices.

Drawn to peer support groups within the prison walls, Jose delved into understanding trauma and the intricacies of recovery. These gatherings became his learning grounds, providing solace and purpose in a tumultuous environment. As his release date approached in April 2023, Jose faced the daunting prospect of reintegration into society. Armed with newfound self-awareness and a commitment to sobriety, he embarked on a quest to not only rebuild his life but to uplift others along the way.

Guided by a friend's recommendation, Jose found himself at Project Return, captivated by their reentry services tailored to the formerly incarcerated with an emphasis on normalizing recovery . His passion for facilitating self-help groups propelled him into a role of a peer educator, where he continues the work he started behind bars.

Despite his nerves and the echoes of his prison experiences, Jose found peace in the understanding and empathy from his supervisor. It was a comfort that his supervisor, who is also formerly incarcerated, knew the barriers to socialization when you are still experiencing institutionalization from a long prison sentence. It was a pivotal moment that reaffirmed his belief in the power of peer support—a belief he now sought to share with others navigating similar journeys.

This realization echoes one of Jose’s favorite quotes by his friend and reentry activist and poet, Samuel Nathaniel Brown, “There are more people in prison than those who are incarcerated.” Jose explains this quote refers to the inability for everyday individuals to free their minds from societal norms, letting go of implicit biases and ridding themselves from societal prisons.

In his role at Project Return, Jose finds fulfillment in guiding individuals through the uncertainty of reintegrating into society using his lived experience as a gateway and motivation for others to break free. He emphasized the importance of self-reflection, resilience, and perseverance. Whether offering practical advice on navigating hurdles or simply lending a listening ear to those grappling with loss and loneliness, Jose remains steadfast in his commitment to making a difference.

Reflecting on his journey, Jose's message to others is one of hope and resilience. He wants to remind them that they are not alone and every obstacle is an opportunity for growth and redemption. As he continues to work at Project Return, Jose is a beacon of light for those still finding their way out of the shadows, a testament to the transformative power of empathy, self-awareness, and unwavering belief.

Leave a comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Math question:

Solve this simple math problem and enter the result in the box. E.g. for 1 + 3, enter 4.

Please send me your e-newsletter

Post Info:

Published on:

Post by:
Michaella Huck


From Prison to Progress: A Journey Still Shaping Itself | Project Return Peer Support Network
Conversations with Strangers Turned to Pathway of Peer Support | Project Return Peer Support Network