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The Lines Between Us: The Road to Independence
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February 1, 2013
Jamyla Kay, Assistant Producer
But as Marian House executive director Katie Allston says, many of the women who call Marian House home, struggle with several of these issues at one time.
"[In each section] each woman has a spread of her own, and in every case each woman has that issue," Allston says, "although some of the women could have been in any chapter."
The women stay in Marian House facilities for up to two years, but Allston says the women's struggles do not end once they transition to independence, especially when trying to obtain employment.
"The goal of our program is that the women become employed, but unfortunately, Baltimore is not the affordable city that it used to be," Allston says. "If they are working at McDonald's or working at a job where they're only getting $10 an hour they actually can't afford to get their own apartment."
Marian House receives local, state and national grants to fund subsidized permanent housing for some participants.
For women who have been incarcerated, working a low-wage job may not even be an option for them, as employers may shy away from hiring someone with a criminal record.
"Truly the women know that they have something to prove. They potentially haven't worked in a period of time, they don't have a wonderfully long resume. They have this criminal background they need to overcome," Allston says. "We have heartache after heartache about this issue."
As she explains in her audio story, former resident Trina Selden has suffered heartache about her career limitations due to her felony convictions.
"I feel like my calling is to help people. I would love to be a parole or probation officer but I know that's not going to happen," Selden says. "I want to do counseling of some sort. I wanted to work with special needs kids and [I was told] I couldn't because of my felonies--none of them had to do with child abuse or anything like that. It was all drug charges."
Changing people's perceptions
Allston says she wants "30 Women, 30 Stories" to serve several functions: to be inspirational to those struggling with the issues that the women have overcome, and to remove the stigma surrounding the issues.
"These women got better, and of course they are just a sampling of women who got better," says Allston. "I want the women and men who are suffering to know that, and I want those of us who think that the bum on the street is just a bum on the street to know that no--he's a human being and he's got a story. There's a reason he's there, and with the right help he can get better."