Kevin Russell

Kevin Russell knew he had betrayed his family and he swore he’d never do it again. Five years ago, Kevin entered prison, leaving behind a young son. Ever since, Kevin has been determined to do right by his boy and that goal led him to Safer Foundation.

Kevin Russell

Prior to his arrest, Kevin wanted to be an electrician. He took all the courses he needed to get his electrical certification, but ran afoul of the law.

“When I first got incarcerated, I received a letter from a family member,” he said. “They sent me the letter that the electrical union had sent me to let me know they were going to hire me. I was supposed to come in on June 6, but I was incarcerated on May 30.”

Realizing his mistakes had cost him a great job opportunity, Kevin thought about the broader effects of his decisions.

“It was a heartbreaker right there for me because I have a son and I have a daughter,” he said. “At the time, I was in my son’s life very much so. He was basically my best friend. I had to realize that after I saw that letter and took the time to think, I couldn’t honestly say I love him as much as I say I do if I’m doing things out there that aren’t conducive to me and him growing together.”

Kevin looked for the best way to be a positive role model for his son. Knowing that a real job would be the best example, Kevin turned to Safer Foundation, the same organization that helped him find himself while on the inside.

“One of the biggest and most important aspects of Safer that they provided to me was the benefit of the doubt,” he said. “They didn’t judge me because I’m an inmate or I’m a convict or whatever it is. ‚Ķ They also helped me while I was incarcerated. With me going to Sheridan (Correctional Center), they have the computer lab there. They helped me realize who I am and what I am as a person. Once I had all those things behind me, I started working with Safer, tutoring other inmates trying to get their GEDs, trying to get a better education.”

Upon his release, Kevin returned to Safer, and after other employment opportunities found a job as an ironworker. While he is grateful for everything Safer has done for him, he wants others in his situation to know that the program is not a handout.

“A lot of times we, as people, we feel that somebody is obligated to give us something or we’re deserving of something without putting forth any effort,” he said. “It’s sort of like, my hand’s wide open, make sure it’s filled up. I have to let people know, Safer’s only going to do just as much for you as you’re going to do for yourself. And when you start doing for yourself, believe me, they’re going to do more for you than you even think you’re doing for yourself.”

For Kevin, Safer helped him reconnect with his son. When the child asked if he was done with crime, Kevin had a simple answer.

“I had to explain to him that I’m three things: I’m a man, I’m your father, and I’m your friend,” he said. “Those are the only three things that I’m going to be. He missed a lot out of my life and I missed a lot out of his life. I know I did, but he has a heart of gold for me and I understand that. That’s the thing that I have to realize. I cannot continue to put myself in position to hurt him because he’s going to love me unconditionally regardless. I’m disrespecting him by not being the man that I need to be for him. It’s a beautiful thing right now for me to be in the position I’m in.”

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