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“For me it’s a way to start giving back to my community. In my case, my community starts here.” 

Pedro, 69

Incarcerated: 25 years

I am in the process of rehabilitating myself. I am lucky to be in San Quentin, the right place where self-help groups are offered to address my drug and alcohol addiction. I started this prison sentence without a goal. However, there was one thing I knew I had to change, I decided “Enough is enough, I have got to stop doing drugs and alcohol, or I will destroy my life.” Then I made peace with the God of my understanding and for self improvement I set out to get my high school diploma. I also started going to Alcohol Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Then, I got transferred to San Quentin. At first I was worried because of its notoriety of being a hard core prison, but that all changed. I found San Quentin to be a rehabilitation and educational institution. Here I found so much to do, that I needed to choose which program to take. I enrolled in Mount Tamalpais college. Then the pandemic hit and all the programs came to a halt!  It was early in 2021 when the pandemic restrictions were lifted and I was asked if I wanted to help to set up the new college library. The library was going to be in B-building, in the existing storage area known as cage #1 and cage #2. There were thousands of books in boxes. I started working right away by dusting off the boxes and shelves, as well as sweeping and mopping a year of dust and dirt. Inventory needed to be taken. The books were to be classified and counted, the idea to display them like in a bookstore developed. It was an easier method to identify and categorize them. At the same time while putting together the new library, they did not have a porter to clean and maintain the building’s classrooms and study areas. The building needed to be brought to post-covid cleaning standard.  The education department did not have a gardener, so I also took on the duties of gardening. This experience, working as a volunteer has helped me to make indirect amends for the wrong and harm I’ve done to my victims. For me it’s a way to start giving back to my community. In my case, my community starts here.

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