Hello Friends and Neighbors!
This is David Once Again!!
And here we are at the end of another month of CoVid 19 Drama.
How long has it been? Six months now? And the sad part is this has become the new normal. Hopefully, things do not get any worse before they get better. But whatever the future holds, we are better off together.
One thing I learned while in prison is, that it is my choice how angry I allow things to make me. As a result, I have adopted a mindset to always look for the positive aspects of every situation. This helps keep me be clear-minded, with my thinking not clouded by strong emotion. It helps me make better decisions.
Vanessa has been working to keep everyone informed, as you have seen.
Day after day, Answering endless questions and concerns, gathering information, emailing CDCR officials, and others to keep the pressure on for them to do the right thing(s). Meanwhile I've been spendig every spare moment, (after working 40 hours at my other job...) to get all the furniture reassembled, all the computers and equipment reconnected and operating and making sure everyone else can work safely and efficienly. Not to mention picking up the fringes in email and our website. You can't imagine what it's like trying to keep this machine operating.
It has been a strain on our household as well as on Vanessa personally. A couple of other things that have been going on that some of you may or may not already know about. Vanessa had surgery last Wednesday for Cataracts. The surgery was a success, and once she can get some new glasses for driving, she should be much better off. She can already operate the computer without glasses. That is a big improvement! but it is still a "bump in the road" and if you know Vanessa, she feels like she is behind now that she had to take some time away from the computer and all of you. Talk about commitment…
In addition to that, with the stress of this ongoing pandemic, of the pending surgery and the move, (which I will talk more about later) and just life in general, she has been dealing with debilitating pain connected to muscle spasms in her neck. Nothing seems to help. Pain medication, muscle relaxers, heat, cold, PT, it all just seems to be useless and the pain comes and goes with no rhyme or reason. V’s a pretty tough cookie, but there have been times her neck will bring her to tears. And believe me, she's not one to fade.
The gratitude you have expressed has been an enormous source of encouragement to us. So much so that I would like to share some of the testimonials we have at the end of this blog. Hopefully, you will enjoy them as much as we do!!
On a positive note, at the beginning of this month, LSA moved across the street to a bigger office. We had been working out of a one-room, 563 sq. ft. office for the last 3 ½ years. At times as many as 7 people trying to work at once. In the beginning, it was great to have our own place; one for which we were not beholden to anyone other than our supporters. (our office before that was a lovely ans spacious donated space, subject to our eviction whenever they found someone to rent it… Then that happened and so we moved. It was not a comfortable feeling waiting for the other shoe to fall in the form of our notice to move.) Moving into an office we were signing a 1-year lease commitment for, committing to rent for a year at a time took an act of faith that all of you would remain with us and support us. After all, it is the kindness of our membership that makes what we do possible.
Over time Life Support Alliance grew, but the office space did not. We ended up with people crawling over each other; working from a couch and coffee table, or from the copy table. We did not realize how cramped we were until we moved. And again, the commitment to the larger space with the larger rent is an act of faith for us. There are many benefits, as you can see by the pictures. Room for more volunteers to work side by side. That's become important as we have been printing, collating, stapling, stuffing envelopes, making labels, stamping and sealing literally hundreds of the Mental Health packets. then lugging them to the post office. It's WORK! And it's great to see it take place. Our ability to work has expanded, so our impact will likely increase. Won’t that be great?? But our ability to stay will depend on the generosity of our members, collectively. That’s you!!
Let me share some stuff...
(The Front Door of our new office, late in the afternoon.)
"I attended the LSA seminar last September in LB and appreciated all the information and support you provided. I follow a few other organizations that support prison reform and LSA has been my #1 source of keeping me updated especially during this covid19 pandemic. Thank you for all that you do!!"
Raylene R., July 2020
(The front window of Vanessa's office. Notice the door she can close. That's new for her!!)
"I wanted to share the good news that my husband, Mitch, who was sentenced to 15 to life was granted parole in his first board hearing this year, August 6th. I want to thank you for providing the meetups, resources, and just loads of information to equip both of us to accomplish his grant. You guys are awesome, and your hard work truly has helped us."
Marybeth H. November 2019
(That's the Boss... Doin' her thing!!)
"This is EXACTLY what I’ve been looking for. I am so grateful. Thank you very much!"
Cori Y. March 2020
(Robin, our Office Manager's desk, just inside the front door. She volunteers many hours helping to keep everything straight, oh, and she answers tons of letters as well!!)
Thank you for all you do. I have attended several of your seminars and donated where I can. I would be so lost in this process if it were not for your help and diligence in this fight for prisoner reform. I have learned so much and truly value the information you give. You are a wealth of knowledge in this very difficult road to maneuver."
DeAnne K. November 2019
(Guest waiting area, in Robin's office. That's V's office door you see.)
"Thanks for all the great things you guys do for all of us inside and out."
John C. Formerly incarcerated; June 2020
"Hi David! I think it’s a great idea and you guys are all doing great work on behalf of all of us! I signed up. It’s only $10 a month right now. I hope to be able to give more in the future! Thank you."
Ronnie & Stephanie, April 2020
(This is the shared staff office. It is about to get another desk in it, too.)
"Keep fighting the good fight, Vanessa. LSA has always been the one organization who I trust has the best intention for all those incarcerated. You are all doing a phenomenal job. Thank you for being our voice for our loved ones."
Cecilia Q., July 2020
(This is the copy table, where we make all our CoVid Stress packets, seminar packets, Amends and Connecting the Dots packets and folders, etc. That's one working machine!!)
"Thank God for LSA. Your team brings hope and a sense of relief to the families doing time. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
Amy R. May 2020
(More of the Copy Room)
"Been out for a little over a month, just wanted to say thank you. Connecting the dots work is what set me free. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
Andrew S., Former lifer; 15 years 5 months on a 15 to life.
(More of the Copy Room. Did I mention we're still getting unpacked??)
"I would like to express my gratitude to LSA for always being available to me to answer all the questions I've had in the past to now. I reached out to you having no clue as to how to write a letter of support for my beloved husband, thank you for helping me tremendously in preparing a letter of support and also for preparing him for the board. Every time I called or emailed you, you have always been patient and understanding with me, it means a lot to me and my husband whom I believe will be free one-day thanks to God and to you! Keep up the great work and may God bless you and your staff for what you do, for those incarcerated and their families. You are highly appreciated! I know my giving isn't in vain but rather for a good cause."
Love, Margarita R., November 2019
(Did I mention there's another desk going in the shared staff office? This is it. And this office we hope to rent out for a time to help offset the higher cost for office space. Actually, we're getting about the best rate in the Sacramento area...)
"Hi Vanessa & Dave, Just wanted to tell you thank you so much for going to Avenal today. My husband was able to attend on B yard and had nothing but good to say about the presentation LSA gave them today. Hearing Dave speak on his life crime made a huge impact for him and several of the others who attended. Thank you again!"
Cynthia C. November 2019
"I don't mind contributing $10 a month for whatever you do with it. You guys do sooooo much for all of us. would like for you to know that it's a pleasure to be able to give a little something. Thank you for all you do."
Pamela F., April 2020
(One of MY favorite rooms; the lunchroom!)
"David- I made a donation last month but I also just signed up for the monthly donation as well. You guys are amazing!!!!! I hope Vanessa is able to get a little rest in between all the work you guys are doing. You both ROCK!!!"
Peggy B. April, 2020
(The hallway to the back)
I will definitely donate, thank you for all that you do...it doesn't go unnoticed by us who appreciate and value your hard work...and that of your staff."
Yvonne S. April 2020
(A storage room!!)
"Happy to do this! LSA’s work and commitment is truly amazing and so helpful to all of us, volunteers too!"
Susan M. November 2019
(And the big trash right outside of the back door!!)