If you’ve volunteered with us at Colorado State Penitentiary (CSP), then you have seen Jason’s smiling face! After spending over 23 years in prison, he emerged from rock bottom with an unwavering determination to turn his life around. Adversity, challenges, and uncertainty became the catalysts for his transformation, and we are so excited to welcome him to the Breakthrough team as one of our Re-entry Specialists. Learn more about Jason below!
Where were you born?
I was born in Dayton, Ohio
What is your favorite color?
My favorite color is Blue.
What is your favorite food?
My favorite food is burgers, because I feel like you can put all the food groups together on a burger.
What is your favorite activity to do in your free time?
I love to spend time with family and friends. I also love Movies, everything about them, and whether I go to them or I stay at home and watch them, it’s always an experience. I also love to get outside every chance I get.
Are you a dog person or cat person?
I would say that I am more of a dog person, but I also like cats, especially the mainecoon, which is considered the dog of cats.
Why did you decide to sign up for the Breakthrough program?
When I initially signed up with Breakthrough, it was a new program being piloted in the facility and I didn’t know what to expect. However, I knew that it was highly selective and intensive, and would be very challenging, mentally, emotionally, academically and that both intrigued me and excited me because I am always looking to better myself; to grow, and to ultimately be challenged. When I saw that that was what the mission of Breakthrough was all about, I was all in.
Whether they know it or not, or believe it or not, [the volunteers] have such a huge impact on the participants. When they come in, our world gets so much bigger.
Why did you decide to stay on as a Peer Facilitator?
I stayed on for many reasons. The most important reason for me was the level of investment I experienced from the Breakthrough team. Their level of investment not only challenged me, mostly on how I see myself; my self-limiting beliefs, but they helped me break down the barriers I placed on myself, and showed me through the process and through community that I do measure up, that I do have what it takes. Experiencing first hand the sincere lengths and dedication Breakthrough has gone to show up for me and all the other participants, is the reason I stayed on. They created a culture that exemplifies “you show up, we show up” and that is a culture I had to be a part of.
What was your favorite part of being a Peer Facilitator?
Of course it is so rewarding and a privilege to serve and to help others move their ideas forward and to challenge the perceptions, as mine were. But, my favorite part of being a facilitator was seeing that moment, when the lightbulb comes on with the participants, and you see the shift in them and watch them take off, completely believing in themselves, in their ideas, in the process. I love to see that.
Why is it so important for volunteers to come in with Breakthrough?
Our volunteers are the secret sauce to the course. Truly! Whether they know it or not, or believe it or not, [the volunteers] have such a huge impact on the participants. When they come in, our world gets so much bigger. Not only do we feel like we have a community we belong to, but we feel supported. We feel normal, even if it is only for those couple of hours we’re in class. They’re so impactful, the next week can’t arrive fast enough; to see who is going to come in and what lessons we’ll walk away with. They not only bring a sense of community with them, but they bring experience, insight, advice and guidance. Without the volunteers, I don’t believe Breakthrough would have as great an impact as it does.
Anything else you want to add:
I appreciate everything Breakthrough has done for me. I am grateful for all the ways they invested in me, believed in me, and considered me. And I am so thankful for the ways they’ve challenged me, inspired me, and motivated me to level up. I am also grateful for the opportunities they have given me to be a part of their organization and to add value and grow their mission.