CMC Stories: Life's Second Chances



Charles had all but lost hope. He wanted a chance to change his life, to be a husband and father, and to leave the lifestyle that had led to serving time in prison. He had spent 7 years in prison for drug trafficking and weapons charges.

After serving his time, Charles was sent to the Community Based Correctional Facility (CBCF) for six months to transition back into the community. He felt lost, unsure of what to do. It was there that Charles met Tracy Callahan, a mediator from FrontLine Service’s Cleveland Mediation Center program.

Tracy could see how anxious and depressed Charles was. Charles could not stop worrying about what his life would look like following his release from the CBCF. How could he return to the community without any real job prospects or a home to live in? He was overwhelmed.

Together, Tracy and Charles began to explore his options. While in prison, Charles’ phone calls with his girlfriend were difficult, she was so upset about his absence from their family. Because of this, he wasn’t sure if he would be welcomed back into the lives of his girlfriend or children. Charles’ fear about what could happen to him and his family was its own prison, keeping him from moving forward and feeling hopeful.

Tracy arranged a mediation with Charles, his girlfriend, and the children, who – to his surprise – were excited to hear from him. After a long and heartfelt conversation, the family agreed that he could eventually stay with them, but they were also clear that he would have to work towards earning back their trust. Charles agreed to be more reliable and more present as a father and provider for his family.

At the end of their discussion, Charles shared his thoughts with Tracy. He recognized the damage he had caused in his relationships with his family. And he understood that he would have to make changes for himself and for his family.

Employment was critical. Tracy talked with Charles about the types of work that he might enjoy. While incarcerated, Charles said he developed a love of cooking. Tracy suggested that Edwin’s Culinary Arts School might be a good option for him. He couldn’t believe it when he received an acceptance letter into the program. He was ecstatic when he learned that the program offered free room and board in addition to providing him a paycheck throughout his training. For the first time in a long while, Charles felt real hope for his future.

Charles has since completed the program, secured employment, and is looking to further his education to become an Executive Chef. Meanwhile, Charles’ girlfriend has invited him to come live with her and the children, where they are taking things one day at a time.

Charles has expressed his gratitude numerous times for the work he was able to do with Tracy. He listened and understood Charles' situation. He encouraged Charles in his ability to make major life changes. Now Charles has a home, a family who accepts him, and is pursuing a career he loves. When Charles asked Tracy how he could ever repay him for helping him change his life, Tracy simply replied, “Living well is the meaning of success, when you find yourself able to help someone else, do it without hesitation.” Charles hopes to help others as Tracy helped him, help himself.


This story is based on true events with names, images, and identifying information changed to protect the identity of the individual.

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