Clovis News Journal Recognition!!!
We would like to thank Kevin Wilson for his kind words in the article of Sunday January 6, 2013.
Since he went to prison in 2007 for a DWI conviction, Randy Pruit has been trying to rebuild himself to mixed results.
He’s successfully established a car sales business, but he has strained relationships with his two children, three previous spouses and numerous stepchildren, because “they’re all affected” by his criminal history.
He knows rebuilding is tough, and he decided during his two years behind bars that he’d not only rebuild himself but provide a way for others to rebuild.
More than five years later, Pruit and partners are making repairs and screening clients for a halfway house called the G.L.U. Factory — short for “God Loves Underdogs.”
The halfway house is slated to open Feb. 1, about three months after he first acquired the house at 1205 Jones St. When it’s ready to operate, Pruit said, the eight rooms can adequately host 12 men who have finished prison sentences.
“What we’re trying to do is make the men feel like returning citizens,” Pruit said. “That’s the key word. They’re not felons; they’re returning citizens.”
Those men must have shown a desire to change their ways, and must be referred by a chaplain or counselor in the prison system. When they get there, they have a place to live and sleep and a job with a lawn care company set up by the halfway house.
“As soon as they get here, they’re going to have a job,” Pruit said. “If they like that, good. If they want to (do something else), we’ll work with New Mexico Workforce.
“If they can’t work, they can’t be here.”
Half of everything the men make will go into a savings account, so by the time they finish a three- to four-month reintegration period they have some ability to pay for housing deposits and other moving expenses.
The house’s proximity to the Matt 25 Hope Center helps the transition include a recovery-centered system offered at the center. Each resident will also have an outside mentor, with volunteers so far stepping forward from three Clovis churches.
Orlandus Dawson will serve as the house manager. Dawson said his job is a live-in position where he needs to be a role model and a source of information. He served in a similar operation for people who had been in mental institutions, and he knows the difficult work only starts after they’ve finished fixing the house.
“We taught them how to manage their bills, groceries — everyday life things that we take for granted,” Dawson said with a long pause, “and we had to break up some fights.”
Signs of wear and tear populate the house previously used by ENMRSH and other organizations for similar purposes. But Ernie Foster, the program manager, said the house has improved in so many ways.
“It took me about three hours just to pull nails out of walls,” Foster said. “There was trash all over the place, needles and crackpipes all over, glass everywhere.”
On Saturday, a group of Cannon Air Force Base personnel is planning to come to the house and do repair work, though Pruit said some smaller tasks will be set aside for the residents to perform so they have ownership in the facility.
Other needs include appliances and financial donations to buy a security system — a private citizen has told Pruit he’ll match such donations — and a constant need for citizens willing to be mentors.
Pruit said a key element is the residents’ families, and specifically the children. Statistics he’s found note that children of a convicted felon have an 80 percent chance of ending up in jail themselves, but when the father returns to an active family role the odds drop to 20 percent.
But Foster said helping men take on that role means removing their ways to cheat the system. They could lie to a counselor alone and maybe get away with it, or lie to the house manager without being discovered. Foster said each layer they cover between fellow residents, family members and friends and counselors helps provide a better chance to straighten out.
“We tell (families), ‘We need you to be open and honest,'” Foster said. “‘Stop the lies, stop the leaks.'”
Pruit and Foster say without Laura Leeder involved as a licensed counselor, they have zero credibility, and numerous individuals have already helped with supplies and volunteering time.
When he finished his sentence, Pruit said his father, James, supported him and often “went to the dirt for me,” and his time in the family business of selling television sets helped him hit the ground running as a car salesman.
But not everybody is a salesman, Pruit said, and not everybody has a support system when they leave the prison walls.
“I want to give what has been provided to me,” Pruit said. “A lot of men helped me, and I want to give back.”
For information on the halfway house, visit www.glufactory.org or visit its page on Facebook.