Meet the Resident: Jace
September 6, 2023
A Change for the Better
Jace Sharp arrived at Dismas House in May and was surprised by the level of care he encountered immediately. A native of Fayetteville, Jace says that, upon release from incarceration, he initially wanted nothing more than to return home to his family. “I was mandated to come to a reentry house for my parole, and I was kind of upset at first. But once I got here, seeing that everyone was so kind and eager to help, I love it now. I wasn’t expecting all this.”
“When you first get here and walk in your room – you see clothes, toiletries, things like that. It just makes you feel like you’re at home. Just knowing that there are people on your side who don’t have to be – it helps you want to do right.”
During his first 30 days of acclimation on campus, a period where residents do not work, Jace utilized all of the resources at hand and found Dismas House’s life skills courses particularly impactful. “I got something out of every class. It really comes down to what you make of it. You can sit there and just hear what they’re saying, or you can listen and try to relate to it. The program really helped me open up. I wouldn’t be sitting here now like this without it. I didn’t like talking and all of that, but it broke me out of that.”
With the support of a dedicated care team and a new foundation, Jace prepared to accomplish his first goal: finding employment. After just one month, he was offered a welding position with Rogers Manufacturing. The trade is near and dear to his heart, as was the opportunity. “My grandfather had a welding business for 40 years and raised me in that environment. We were really close, but he passed away a couple of months before I got out of prison. Being back in the welding shop brings back memories of him. It’s what I love.”
Moving Forward in Gratitude
Maintaining strong relationships is a priority for Jace, and he wants nothing more than to make his family proud. “I’ve made a lot of progress since I’ve been here, got a good job, and am just trying to better myself every day. My family is very supportive, and they’re happy for me. It’s a new beginning.”
Of course, reentry introduces its fair set of challenges, and Jace’s new beginnings included milestones that many of us take for granted. Upon exiting prison, he discovered fines and fees that stood in the way of restoring his birth certificate and Social Security card. These roadblocks prevented Jace from obtaining his driver’s license, leaving him with a multi-hour daily commute via public transportation. Transferring bus lines and often encountering unanticipated scheduling errors, he says that his employer showed a level of understanding that meant the world to him. Though Jace never complained through the process, he was thrilled to regain his personal identification in late August through Dismas House’s legal partners. Adding to his excitement, Jace’s mother reconnected him with his personal car, and, just last week, he stepped behind the wheel for the first time in five years. With this set of challenges in the rearview mirror, he is focused now on continued career growth and financial stability.
“I don’t plan on leaving Dismas House until I get off parole next year. I want to continue saving in the meantime. Once I do leave, I want to stay in Nashville. I like my job, and they value me as an employee. They gave me a chance – coming straight out of prison – when they didn’t have to. They said they didn’t care about my past – just who I am now and my future. It means a whole lot to me.” Receiving two raises in just three months, Jace hopes that his work ethic and character prove worthy of the chance he’s been given, and he constantly reminds himself to take nothing for granted.
“Dismas House also gave me an opportunity. They’re giving people a chance who might not have had the right tools to better their lives. They help people take the steps they need to make a real change. Just knowing that other people in the community care about us is crazy, too – people who don’t even know me. They help me and countless others without having met us. We have the opportunities we have because of them.”
Wanting to share his gratitude to all who have helped him along the way, Jace can’t forget to thank his mother. “One of the main thing that keeps me going is knowing that I’m making her happy. She’s done a lot for me. I may not be taking care of her financially or anything like that right now, but I know I’m doing something for her peace of mind.”