- On March 1, 2017
- #LifeChanging, ithaca, ithaca rescue mission, jobs, life changing, rescue mission, women
Donatella faced a great deal of anxiety about making decisions and functioning in society after she was released from prison. “Everything seemed so fast. There were a million things going on,” she recalls thinking, after her regimented and isolated life in incarceration. After five and a half years of incarceration, she had nowhere to go, so she came to the Ithaca Rescue Mission’s emergency shelter.
The Rescue Mission staff welcomed her and helped her adjust. “I would get overwhelmed and someone was right there,” she recalls. “I was so grateful to be here because there were people on staff who really helped me in ways big and small… Walking outside with me, walking me down the street, walking me to the bus stop.”
While in prison, Donatella had completed culinary training courses. She says she knew she would have to “reinvent” herself because her criminal record would prevent her from obtaining a high-level professional job like she had once held. She entered a work re-entry program that she connected with at the Rescue Mission’s Friendship Center, and she began washing pots and pans through the program, which contracts with Ithaca College. Soon, Donatella was promoted to be a prep cook, and within a year, the college hired her as a vegan chef.
Donatella now has her own apartment, and two cats. She enjoys running on local trails and reading in the library. She has a different perspective on money and investing than she had in the past.
“Some things are not measurable by the dollar,” she says. “Anytime you help to save any portion of a person, I think it’s worth whatever you have to spend. People don’t change overnight. I didn’t change overnight. It’s a process and I’m still evolving. The Rescue Mission is really about investing in people.”