To Stand With People
Story by Erika Osorio serving with Burlington Dismas House
If ex-offenders could use anything, it is support. And, the moment I signed on to live at the Dismas house as an AmeriCorps member I knew that the main reason I chose to rise to this challenge was to learn from this stigmatized population, but also to provide residents with support, whether it be emotional or technical.
On Thursday, June 12th, Vermont Interfaith Action held a community panel that discussed issues in our criminal justice system and a Dismas resident was to speak about his experience in the hands of the Department of Corrections. I didn't have to go see him speak, but as a member of the Dismas community, and a leader within the community, it was my duty to attend and show my solidarity. It was at this panel that I realized why I was at Dismas and why it was such an important institution. Our resident verbally acknowledged Dismas and was proud to be part of our Dismas community. He was clear that without Dismas and the people who make up the community, he would feel unsupported and unable to move forward with his life in a positive direction.
Since the beginning of my time at Dismas, I have been enthusiastic of my work here, but with the daily grind you start to forget why you're there, what your purpose is. This meeting was a sweet reminder of what my purpose is: to build and be part of a community. It is this skill that I hope to keep and cherish after my AmeriCorps life: to stand with people.
Photos provided by Burlington Dismas House: Top, Dismas on Buell St.; Bottom: Dismas at VYCC in Richmond, VT.