Women are strong. Women are brave. Women are fighters. In today’s society, women are marginalized for their identities and face many consequences because of it. In the spirit of Second Chance Month, I want to focus on what second chances look like and how women in these circumstances define success.
I am very lucky to be an intern at Benevolence Farm. This internship has led to meeting many wonderful women who all have very diverse backgrounds. One woman that I have the honor of knowing is Katie Anderson. The minute Katie walks into a room, it’s like everything is shining brighter than it could have ever been. Katie currently works for Benevolence Farm as the Second Chance Alamance Project Manager.
During this internship, I was able to stop by one of the second chance houses and take a tour of the new space for the residents and staff. This new home, located in Burlington, is filled with new spirits and hopes for a better future. While touring the house, I had the opportunity to interview Katie and learn about her experiences being incarcerated and how she experiences her life now.
In the interview, I asked Katie questions about her experiences before, during, and after incarceration. Through this interview, not only did I learn more about the cruel criminal legal system, but also about the strength and passion from women who are affected by it.
One moment in particular which stood out to me was when I asked Katie “What did you learn about yourself post-incarceration that may be shocking if your pre-incarceration self saw you?”
Katie has been featured in various documentaries and news stories; Yet, when I asked her this question, she paused and told me that this was a question she has never been asked. She stated that “pre-incarceration Katie would be shocked that post-incarceration Katie is no longer with her abuser and no longer trapped in that death cycle.” I watched Katie feel a sense of empowerment and strength as she was actually able to say how much she has grown.
The next morning, we went to get her driver’s license. Simple acts like this are marks of success. While our larger society may brush off these actions as “easy”, they often mean so much more for people who have struggled with incarceration. For Katie, dancing through the parking lot with her driver’s license in her hand was a mark of independence and moving back into a life of normalcy.
Second chances are crucial to all of us. Second chances allow us to try something new, grow a family, make mistakes and grow, work, make amends, and even maybe drive somewhere new. Second chance Month is not only for those who are currently and formerly incarcerated, but also for those who may just want a second chance at life.
Olivia is a college intern with Benevolence Farm. She is currently a sophomore at Elon University studying Human Service Studies and Policy Studies with minors in Poverty and Social Justice and Jewish Studies. While she is currently living in Elon, NC, Olivia is originally from Huntingdon Valley, PA. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling, and volunteering at local agencies.