Former felons provide guiding voice through holiday depression
By Stephanie Robusto, Reporter
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) –Holidays can be stressful, but for a certain population, this time of year can bring extra obstacles; depression, substance abuse, and criminal acts.
After serving their time behind bars, a group of Richmond men are using their first-hand experience to prevent others from going down the same path.
Oludare Ogunde, Jawad Abdu, and Jerry Lee sat down with Miss Community Clovia for her Community Conversations series to tackle holiday depression.
“Part of the holidays comes a lot of stress. People want to give their families whatever they want for the holiday season, but a lot of our family members can’t do it. That’s where the depression sets in, folks have issues with substance abuse disorders,” began Community Clovia as she spoke into the radio station microphone.
The stress, the drinking, the temptation, she went on, can all be triggers for those who may fall back into bad habits, especially concerning criminal activity.
“We’re trying to let them know that they matter,” added Jawad Abdu, who struggled with depression after being incarcerated. He sat aside Lee and Ogunde, who also have similar stories.
“When I was in prison, willing to learn how to give back,” said Lee, adding, “I’m thankful for the opportunity to return….return what I took away. I took a lot away from society for being a misguided influence in my community.”
Now he’s determined to be a positive guiding influence, and volunteers with the Department of Corrections.
“I go into prisons to help guys understand the process it takes to co-exist in this society we have been taken away from,” he explained.
All three men credit re-entry programs for their ability to return to life outside of prison, which they explain is not an easy course.
“If you want things to change, you’ve got to be part of the change,” added Community Clovia.
The radio show will air on Saturday on PraiseRichmond at 6 a.m., KissRichmond at 9 a.m. and Sunday on iPowerRichmond at 8 a.m.
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