TULSA, Okla. — A local nonprofit called Walter's Way is trying to help former inmates as they re-enter society.
"We're reaching out to this community in any way we can to help," says Joy Block-Wright, the founder of Walter's Way. She named the non-profit after her dad.
"I wanted to give back to the community in the way that 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 it's also to be able to help others," Block-Wright says.
Oklahoma ranks third in the nation regarding the highest incarceration rates, according to the Prison Policy Initiative.
Block-Wright made it her mission to help former inmates find homes, jobs, and a path forward. A journey she experienced after being behind bars for bank and credit card fraud.
"I might have been 22 when I had my first prison stint," she says. "I had to go to prison in California. It was rough, and I want to say I was in prison at least four times in my life."
She says that during her last incarceration, she rediscovered her faith, reconnected with her childhood pastor, and was ready to turn her life around.
"My children were my force in changing my life because I did not want them to be raised doing things I had done, and I didn't want them to be raised by someone else," Block-Wright.
She got her family back but starting over wasn't easy. That's why she created a support system for others.
"I want them to know there are people out there just like you," Block-Wright says.
The first step is helping former inmates find and furnish their homes. Walter's Way does that through donations.
"We can donate those things as they are donated to us. We also sell them at low cost, and that low cost helps us be self-sufficient," she says.
This prison fellowship extends beyond the store. Joy holds community resource events like a recent "Second Chances Luncheon."
She shares her redemption story openly and often, so much so that Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt issued her a pardon in September 2020.
"People make mistakes, and he was able to let me know that even though I made a mistake that he believed in my change," Block-Wright says.
She received grace, which she extends to others so they can find hope, help, and a second chance.
"It is very rewarding. Rewarding to be able to help people get that."
Walter's Way is happy to accept donations and help anyone in need, and there is more information online.
Tune in Tuesday at 10 p.m. to hear more of this redemption story on 2 News Oklahoma.