Eric Smith is a Re-Entry Coach at The First 72+. Eric believes in second chances and that everyone can do better in life. As a Re-Entry Coach, he is grateful to help others on their paths to work to improve themselves. Below is an interview that we conducted with Eric in September of 2020, when he first joined our team:
Would you talk a little bit about yourself and your position at The First 72+?
I’m a Re-Entry Coach, so I do intakes with clients, check in on them on things like if they got a job, see if they got their social security card, do some mentoring about relationships and how to acclimate to society when you get out of prison. I’ve always been around The First 72+ in the community, and I was doing construction work for a really long time. I was invited to come on the team, and I took a chance on doing this work, because it’s really different from the work I was doing before.
What are some of the challenges you see people going through right now when they come home from prison?
The main thing I’m seeing is struggles finding housing. Also struggles with technology. Like my uncle is in prison and he’s 72, and although he has somewhere to go, he doesn’t know anything about technology. People like him have been in prison so long they know nothing about technology, and they really need a hand with that in order to be equipped to be in society. There are people coming out of prison every day who not only don’t know how to use technology, but they also don't really know how to talk to people, how to react to people, be with people and feel comfortable around people. If you’re not used to that and you’re coming from a life that's completely different, kind of like me switching from doing construction for 9 years to working here, you're not just gonna have it all at once. It’s really gonna take some time. It’s gonna take some time to acclimate.
What inspires you to do the work you’re doing now?
I like to help people, that's just me, I like to see people do better in their life cus I believe in second chances. God gives you a second chance in life, the opportunity to get it right. If I can do something to help people be better and build a better you, I’m just grateful to be a servant and reach out to someone else who needs the help. I have a quote that really hits home: “Don’t judge a man by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant”. It's like what I said, it's about planting the seed, if I can help you a little more and help you be a little better, then my day is gonna be worth it.