CLEVELAND - Getting a second chance is what many who have been incarcerated hope for, but obtaining that can be a challenge, which is why Cuyahoga County is coming together to help them have a fresh start.
Amanda Ernsberger is a former convict looking for a fresh start on life and she's doing it by way of cooking.
“The things that we’ve done and brushed to the side smack you right in the face when you get out,” she said.
Living a life on the streets, using and dealing drugs, led Ernsberger to four years in prison, and on top of that, bad credit, defaulted loans, and no job. She said all of that combined can be hard to overcome.
“Without those resources, it really takes that one thing, that one thing that broke you before, can very easily break you again,” she said.
But instead of letting her past define her, she started something new that would stir up a new dream.
Chopping for Change, a culinary re-entry program through Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry in Cleveland has helped her get on her feet.
“Pursuing my master’s degree, working on my career, it’s really the American dream and finally I’m able to live that part of my life,” Ernsberger said.
Ernsberger is what re-entry advocates like Andrea Lindsey, Executive Coordinator for Chopping for Change, say they intend for all the women they help.
“We’re hoping to help people be prepared with all the skills and resources that they need as they re-enter,” Lindsey said.
That’s the whole idea behind re-entry week in Cuyahoga County, to showcase helpful resources out there that many may not know about.
“This is a good chance to spread that message, and to hopefully open some minds,” said Lindsey.
Ernsberger said it’s not only her own effort that has helped her turn things around, but the belief and encouragement from those in society who didn’t count her out.
“You’ve got a cousin, you’ve got a friend, you’ve got somebody who’s been in the criminal justice system, and that’s not going to change until we change how we treat people before they enter and how we treat them upon release,” she said.
Chopping for Change is just one organization that will be featured this week during the county’s re-entry week. Click here for a full list of events.