Resident Spotlight: Jessica Lentz

How did you find TPOM?

My roommate told me about it. She had come through the program and encouraged me to come.


What were some of your concerns when you arrived?

At first, I was overwhelmed by it all. I’m not super-social, so it was hard to talk about everything initially. But after a couple of weeks, it got better.


How has TPOM been helpful with your reentry?

It was so good for me to be working again. They required a bank account and that got me saving money like I needed to. Getting all the basics in place like birth certificate and bus pass kept me moving in the right direction. You have to do the work, but the staff are there to guide you through the steps.


How has your work experience been?

I like to use my hands, so the work at Kabinart has been a good fit. I’ve trained to operate the routing machines, the table saw, the wood-cutting machine, and sometimes work in assembly. [Jessica was featured in a recent Goodwill publication after graduating from Goodwill’s Construction Training where she received her NCCER construction skills certification. She did so well in the construction training that she was offered introductory training in welding. As a result of that experience, Jessica enrolled in the welding program that Tennessee College of Applied Technology offers in the fall.]


What do people need to understand about incarceration?

One of the big things is that during incarceration, you don’t have to make any decisions. That’s one reason you are so overwhelmed when you get out. You learn that you can’t always trust those around you to be for you. That’s why getting to a place where people are for you is so important.


What goals do you have for the future?

My biggest challenge right now is looking for a place to live. The rents are high and they want you to have been out for 5-6 years, but we have to start somewhere. Most  affordable housing puts someone back near temptations. I also don’t want to go back to my small town and the old haunts.


What advice would you give to people considering the program at TPOM?

Come! Do what you’re supposed to do and take advantage of all the classes and the training that is offered. It will make all the difference.

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