Women Describe Life After Prison During Reentry Awareness Week

SPRINGDALE (KFSM) — Two women who spent time in prison for various charges explained Wednesday that getting back into society may be hard, but starting that process is easy.

Brenda Sringfellow and Kachia Phillips both said the help they received from the Return Home Center and Goodwill Reentry helped get them to where they are today.

Stringfellow was arrested a little over two years ago on drug and theft charges.

Once she was released, she said she really didn't have anyone because she messed up a lot of her relationships with family.

"At that point, nobody knew if I was going to generally stay clean or not and I didn’t even," Stringfellow said. "I knew what I wanted but I didn’t know if I was able to."

Phillips was left with similar doubts when she got out.

For 22 years, she said she was addicted to methamphetamine.

She explained she was arrested on drug charges and sex trafficking charges.

Phillips was left with questions like who would hire her and what would she do for a job?

With the help of Marty Hausam, both women were able to get the help they needed to stay out of prison.

Hausam works with Goodwill Reentry as the state reentry programs manager.

"We have people that walk through our doors the same day they got out of incarceration and the only thing they have are the clothes on their back," Hausam said. "They don’t have any place to stay, they don’t have any food, they don’t have a job and our job is to okay, lets help you with the basics. Lets find you the resources to hep you with the food, the clothing and the housing."

Along with making sure people like Stringfellow and Phillips have the physical necessities, Hausam said they work to make sure they have hope.

Stringfellow is now married and works as the Transitional Employment Opportunities Program Coordinator.

This is the program she said saved her life.

Most days she works with others as they struggle with the same obstacles she had after she was released.

"Addicts, we define success differently," Stringfellow said. "All of us. Fortunately for us, it’s usually the simple things. A home, a support group, getting back in touch with our family. But there are those hard days when you see others, they lose the battle and there is an ultimate loss in that battle sometimes."

Phillips works as a dietary manager but also helps women coming out of drug addiction at Nicole's House in Rogers.

"I just want them to know that they can do it," Phillips said. "I know as bad as my past was, and with the horrible things that I have done, if I can come out of it, I know any of them can do it if they want it."

Both women say they have been clean and sober for some time now.

They said they never expected to be where they are today.