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E-news – January 21, 2016

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Happy New Year, Fair Shake Friends!

Jan 21, 2016

It is heartening to see the opportunities for successful reentry improve every year. In addition to the hopeful stories of dedication to reducing recidivism, alternatives to sentencing and banning the box, we learned last month that President Obama commuted an additional 95 drug-related sentences on Dec. 18th.  You can always find ‘good news’ stories in the Reentry News section of the home page of our website and also on our Facebook page.

Speaking of good news, we have a lot to share with you in this issue!

First, we’d like to welcome (back) Bridget Cyrus. She is the reason Fair Shake exists!  You see, seventeen years ago, when I owned a hemp body care company called Sun Dog, Bridget asked if I would consider hiring a friend of hers who was coming home from prison.  Her simple and sensible question shattered my ‘box’ of limitations and preconceived notions about formerly incarcerated people and my quest for knowledge and solutions began. After 11 years of walking on separate paths, Bridget has come back to working with me in building Fair Shake.  Together Bridget and Terrell will keep everything about Fair Shake running smoothly while I travel the country introducing our philosophy and tools in prisons and professional / public settings.  We have a strong, creative and joyful team!

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Terrell has taken on a number of exciting projects including translating our Reentry Packet documents into Spanish, building the Reentry Workshop guides and worksheets, adding new pages on our website, and starting a newsletter for people incarcerated within the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  He has many great thoughts to share… and he will ask our members and incarcerated readers to share their thoughts with us so that we can share them with you. We’re pleased to share his expansive piece on gratitude below.

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There is much more to be grateful for, but to keep our newsletter relatively brief, I want to take this opportunity to send a huge THANK YOU to everyone who reached out recently to support our work. We are honored by your generosity and motivated to make the best use of your donation that we possibly can.  We are now creating a video that will introduce Fair Shake to incarcerated people, staff, employers, and citizens to expand our reach to increasingly diverse groups. If you feel motivated to support this work, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to spread the word about Fair Shake!

Finally, we are starting something new in our newsletters. Every month we will send thought-provoking vignettes to all of our readers… our E-news friends, our members and our incarcerated readers. We hope you will feel free to share your thoughts with us and we will compile a number of quotes from the comments we receive from all readers and share them with everyone the following month.

Gratitude
by Terrell M. Hall

What is gratitude? The dictionary provides this definition: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.  It seems that true sense of gratitude, however, has been somewhat lost.

Throughout my life I primarily expressed gratitude when things were going my way. It was easy to remember blessings and to be thankful for them when all was well. I would express my gratitude by offering monetary or material gifts. In hindsight, I was expressing pleasure instead of gratitude. I learned this lesson after the money and other material possessions were taken away and the people who were conditioned by the gifts were gone as well. That is when I began to explore gratitude. Not intentionally, because I had accepted the general concept of gratitude; but through the way that gratitude expressed itself to me.

As I sat in a cold dark place with nothing, I started to tap into my innate gifts and make the best of them. My focus was on my loved ones, life and health and I found myself as thankful as I’d ever been in my life. Thankful for strength of mind. Thankful for my relationships over the years – even the ones that impacted me negatively – because they all played a part in me becoming who I am.  I also realized that those relationships were not just about me; they were about the other person as well. I found myself thankful that I have something to offer the world, just as we all do. These things can’t be taken away, and I will continuously be grateful for them.

I’ve learned that gratitude isn’t an action; it’s a lifestyle where you express your thankfulness for what life has given you.  Gratitude includes being as thankful for the storm as for the sunshine. The storm provides an opportunity for growth that allows you to give back and help others through your experience, effecting change on a level greater than yourself.

I’m honored and grateful to grow Fair Shake with Terrell and Bridget and you.

Ubuntu! ~ sue

Sue Kastensen
Founder and Director
sue@fairshake.net
608-634-6363

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Fair Shake relies on the support of people who believe in our work.  If you like what we’re doing, please consider joining Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, Cosmic Egg Studios, Mountain Forum For Peace, Good Grocers and many dedicated individuals by sponsoring our innovative and integrational work!  We offer several ways for you to make donations, including spending a few dollars each month and making a one-time donation $125 to receive a free box of Dr. Bronner’s soaps and lotion. Thank you!
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