LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – For Sarah Howard, having her own bed is a huge accomplishment.
“I have my own bed and my own stuff. My own area,” Howard said. “I have a place to call my own right now. I can go to work, come home to the same place. It’s stability.”
For the past ten years, Howard has been in and out of prison. After her fourth stint in lockup, she decided it was time to make a change by going to Freshly Renewed Transitional.
“I failed tremendously and this is the first time I’ve done something different. This is the first time I’ve ever not went back to the same environment,” Howard said.
FRT has eight facilities. Three are Arkansas Community Correction transitional facilities and five are sober living homes. The goal is to reduce the state’s recidivism rate, which according to ACC was 53 percent in 2017.
“We take in individuals that’s been incarcerated and we give them that second chance that everybody needs to get,” Freshly Renewed Owner/Director Terrell Newton said.
“I kind of didn’t really do anything to help myself before, so I’ve learned how to be responsible, get up go to work, do my own laundry, pay bills. I pay rent. I do things that normal people do,” Howard said.
She will graduate in a few days and then move on to one of FRT’s sober living homes, which is where Michael Ratican currently is in the program.
“I couldn’t be more grateful,” Ratican said.
After going to prison twice for drug-related crimes, he was happy to be on the road to a new life.
“I’m doing way better that I’ve ever done. I’ve got a vehicle now. I’ve got a cell phone. It’s a pretty good program. They’ve done a lot for me,” Ratican said. “It feels great. I’m actually being a productive member to society instead of a criminal.”
He said if you put in the work, the staff at Freshly Renewed will find a way to help you.
Freshly Renewed was also in the process of applying to become a treatment center since 90 percent of the people who go there were recovering addicts.