Gretchen #VolunteerSpotlight

May 18, 2017

“I can’t encourage people enough, when they retire, to find their niche in volunteering with the population that interests them most,” explains Gretchen when discussing her eight years of volunteer service at Chrysalis and her passion for helping those with criminal backgrounds.

“The incarcerated and ex-incarcerated are particularly vilified in our society. There is so much discrimination towards people with criminal records that I feel they merit help and a second chance. We need others to see them as people, just regular folks.”

Her work with this group began in Italy where she taught English at the University of Turin and volunteered at a male prison. Upon moving to Los Angeles, she began volunteering with Friends Outside, and through their re-entry resources for clients, she found Chrysalis.

Since beginning at Chrysalis, Gretchen has taught “Convictions and The Job Search.” In this course, clients learn to reframe their experiences with the criminal justice system to highlight the skills they gained and the growth they’ve made. Additionally, they are provided with actionable steps to improve their job application and interview process, such as how to receive a free copy of their background check or best practices for disclosing their history. With these tools and Gretchen’s belief in each client’s potential, students leave her class feeling hopeful about their job prospects and their ability to transcend their past. Gretchen feels similarly uplifted.

“It’s so inspiring to see people who have had such difficult lives still be so hopeful.”

We are so grateful to have Gretchen on the team. She is someone who embodies one of Chrysalis’ core beliefs: Everyone should have the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their past. We look forward to continuing to change lives with this amazing volunteer!

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