Oklahoma nonprofit works to help reintegrate former inmates

TULSA, Okla. – A local nonprofit called Walter’s Way is trying to help former inmates as they reintegrate into society.

“We’re reaching out to this community in any way we can to help,” said Joy Block-Wright, founder of Walter’s Way. She named the nonprofit after her father.

“I want to give back to the community the way my father gave back to me when I was in prison. He taught us that when we go through things, it’s not just for ourselves but to be able to help. other people.” Block-Wright said.

Oklahoma ranks third nationally for the highest incarceration rate, according to the Prison Policy Initiative.

Block-Wright sees it as its mission to help former inmates find homes, jobs, and the way forward. A journey she went through after getting behind bars for bank and credit card fraud.

“I might have been 22 when I was in prison the first time,” she said. “I ended up in jail in California. It was tough, and I’d say I’ve been in prison at least four times in my life.”

She said that during her final incarceration, she rediscovered her faith, reconnected with her childhood pastor, and was ready to change her life.

“My kids are a life-changer because I don’t want them to grow up to do what I did, and I don’t want them to be raised by someone else,” Block-Wright said.

She got her family back, but starting over was not easy. That’s why she created a support system for others.

“I want them to know there are people out there just like you,” says Block-Wright.

The first step is to help ex-prisoners find and furnish homes. Walter’s Way does that through donations.

“We can give those away when they’re given to us. We also sell them cheaply, and that low cost keeps us self-sufficient,” she said.

This prison friendship extends beyond the store. Joy hosted community resource events like the recent “Second Chance Luncheon”.

She shares her redemption story openly and so often, that Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt pardoned her in September 2020.

Block-Wright said: “People make mistakes and he could tell me that even though I made mistakes, he still believed in my change.

She has received grace, which she extends to others so that they may find hope, help, and a second chance.

“It’s rewarding. It’s rewarding being able to help people get that.”

Walter’s Way is happy to accept donations and help anyone in need, and is more information online.

Tune in at 10 p.m. Tuesday to hear more of this redemption story on 2 News Oklahoma.

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