Meet Jesse: The Journey of a Father

For Jesse McCord, all roads lead to one goal: reuniting with his son. In October 2022, he was the father of a 9-month-old and had just been released from incarceration. Facing a variety of challenges upon reentry, he discovered his son had been removed from his immediate family’s custody. This fueled Jesse, having been incarcerated several times, not only to restructure his life for his personal benefit, but for his son.

“Most people at Dismas House have a driving factor for why they’re here getting support, and my son’s mine. He’s why I’m here.”

Jesse arrived at Dismas House in the fall and immediately set his sights on accomplishing a variety of objectives during his time here.

“I graduated from the program in January, but I plan to stay here long enough to get everything in order. I need to get my license back, make sure I have savings, and be the person I want to be. Being here really helps with saving for the future. It’s a low-cost place to live, and my food is taken care of. So it’s really helping with several areas.”

Jesse said he wasn’t sure what to expect when he joined Dismas House, but he was hopeful. “When you get here, you see the guys who have been here for a little while and are doing really well, and you’re inspired by that. You also have the guys who are coming in with you and feeling the same way. It’s a good feeling to know you’re not in it alone. Now, I’ve been here for a while, and I’ve got several friends here that I can talk to regularly. I see the new guys coming in and just want to show them that it’s worth doing something different – putting in the hard work to have a different life.”

He says he receives an extra layer of support from a nearby second-chance employer, Thistle Farms. “It’s a great place to work and a great community – there’s a lot of love there. Any time you need anything, someone there is going to help you out however they can. They look out for their team.”

Today, all of Jesse’s choices point back to building a life fit for his son. “A lot of people growing up – they wanted to be a fireman, policeman, things like that. I just wanted to be a family man. Family was really big for me. Now that I have a child, I want to be the best dad possible. I want my son to know later that I was doing everything I could during this time to change for him. I know he’s young now, but if he remembers this, I hope he remembers that I was there for him and did everything I could to get him back.”

Despite lacking custody, Jesse sees his son every chance he can. “His mom brings him to Thistle Farms sometimes so we can eat lunch together. She brings him to Dismas House to see me once or twice a week. It’s not always a lot, but I get to see him. That’s what matters to me. I love that little boy.”

Asked what advice he would give to someone reentering society, Jesse stated, “I would tell them not to live in the past; it’s hard to move forward that way. You can’t make progress in your life if you’re dwelling on something else. The most important thing I’ve realized – it’s so much better on this side than before. I lost everything, and I had to restart. But it’s so much better now.”

“They say ‘Dismas is family’, and it’s true. It’s a family here. Before this, I never had anything like it. I had family members around but not the support I needed like this. I’m grateful to be here, and I couldn’t ask for a better situation. It’s life-changing. If you use the tools you’re given and take advantage of the help provided, you can do anything.”