After incarceration Tracy Brumfield did not sit back with her arms crossed when it came to her recovery and reentry: She founded RISE, a newspaper and resource guide to help Cincinnati’s returning citizens get the services they need to rebuild their lives, reported on RISE website.
Brumfield overcame drug addiction, homelessness and unemployment before running her own business. She launched RISE (Reenter Into Society Empowered) in 2017. The first edition was called the Recovery issue.
“Five years ago, I was downstairs in the holding cell after being arrested for drug possession. I didn’t know what to do, who to call or how to get help,” Brumfield wrote in the first edition. “I knew my addiction had taken over my life, and this arrest was just the first of many horrible consequences.
“I still had prison and homelessness waiting for me,” she added. Once released, Brumfield was living in her car and panhandling for money, but she knew she needed a shift in her life and found a program to get clean.
“I had to work like hell to reclaim my life. But the first thing I had to do was ask for help,” said Brumfield. “(It) seems like an easy thing to do, but for me and many others it was actually the hardest part of getting sober.”
Brumfield began to reach out to family, friends and agencies like the Salvation Army, the Center for Addiction Treatment, and the Health Resource Center. She realized that she could help other formerly incarcerated by relating to them her own experiences.
Brumfield continued to network with people and organizations. Eventually, she connected to People’s Liberty, a Cincinnati philanthropic entrepreneurial lab, from which she received a grant, reported the website.
She put together a small editorial team that consisted of a writer, a designer, a managing editor and an intern. She contracted with a vendor to print the newspaper
The newspaper then commenced its mission to provide people a pathway to new beginnings, finding purpose and hope. The RISE has published issues on recovery, housing and an issue called Community Voices.
“Every issue of RISE is about getting back up again — even at your lowest point,” said Brumfield. “Whether it’s seeking recovery, getting off the streets, or finding a job, you can rebuild your life.
“For whatever reason — we’re here to connect people with the hands of hope in the community,” she added.
The newspaper distributes more than 40,000 copies every five weeks. It’s free of charge; half are distributed to five correctional facilities in three counties between Ohio and Kentucky, according to the paper’s website.
It’s also distributed to health clinics, shelters and food banks.
“Going to jail and eventually prison was an experience I needed to have to find my humility and humanity,” Brumfield said “While inside, I realized that I was no better or worse than anyone else, and success in this life could never be defined by money or material things.
“I envied those who found peace behind bars — the ones doing real time seemed more content than those who only had a few months. It wasn’t because they had given in, but because they had found purpose,” Brumfield added.
She said she found her purpose by coming to grips with her life situations.
“I am no expert, but I found mine [purpose] through pain. The pain of living with substance use disorder — and getting arrested for it — first angered me,” said Brumfield. “I felt angry at the system and angry at myself. I couldn’t understand why I kept making the same mistakes.
“Once I began to realize I had more to do in this life, I began educating myself. For some, education might mean getting a GED or diploma. For others, it might mean going to college or trade school. But education can be just learning something new,” Brumfield added.
Brumfield is not only providing those who are system-impacted a resource guide to reentry, she continues to give back by volunteering and mentoring women in Cincinnati jails and addiction treatment centers, reported on the paper web.
“The greatest gift I can give you in these four pages is what I like to call ‘the real real,’” said Brumfield. “I go into the Hamilton County N32 G pod every Thursday and we talk about the things in life that can really change us, and how in those moments, if we listen to our gut, we can make good decisions,” said Brumfield.
“The difference in my life has been my willingness to listen to my ‘real real,’ and follow what I knew was the right thing to do,” she concluded.