August 27, 2021

Corrections Corner / Ed Witulski

Former inmate says Trusted Mentors is a blessing

Ed Witulski(A former inmate asked for assistance through the Trusted Mentors program, which mentors at-risk adults. He recently shared his story with Ed Witulski, the organization’s mentor match coordinator.)

There is so much that I think people should know about those of us who have experienced homelessness, addiction and a life of crime. However, that’s another story for another day.

Organizations like Trusted Mentors truly understand, and it is part of their mission to help others understand. I discovered Trusted Mentors, which provides trained, volunteer mentors to adults at risk of homelessness, ex-offenders re-entering society and young adults aging out of foster care, while incarcerated at Marion County Jail II.

At the time, I was personally facing 77 years for several armed robberies and certain that I was going to prison for the rest of my life. While I was awaiting sentencing, I was an inmate worker. My job description was dorm representative.

It was while doing this job that I realized I was created to be a leader. It was my job to help other inmates with many things, but I made it my purpose to help them to see something in themselves they never saw, even if they were going to prison for a very long time. I knew in my heart we could still become contributing members of society.

I initially went to a resource fair at the jail to get information for my fellow inmate peers, to get as many resources as I could to help those who were getting out have a chance at a better life. Little did I know my unwavering faith, my commitment to help others, my hard work—and nothing short of several hundred miracles from God—that I would be released to do one year in prison and then get to go home! Thank God I spent all the time I did helping others create a successful comeback strategy. Because of this, I had an arsenal of resources available to me, and Trusted Mentors was on the top of my list.

In the beginning, I was paired with a mentor named Jim. I was the first person he had ever mentored. Both of us were not sure how either would benefit, but we stayed with it.

A beautiful thing happened, and we are both so blessed and grateful to know each other, learn from each other, and grow together.

Jim was not familiar with several aspects of my life. In fact, he admittedly knew nothing about a lifestyle of someone who was homeless, addicted to meth for 10 years, kicked out of school and bullied their entire life for being gay, sent to prison for several crimes, and many other things that I had experienced. But he never criticized, judged or shamed.

In fact, he was a stark presence of what a true human, man and follower of Christ should strive to be. He was eager to learn more, and he had a genuine interest in learning every single aspect of my life so that he could better understand.

We are both better humans, men and followers of Christ because of Trusted Mentors.
 

(Ed Witulski of Trusted Mentors is a member of the archdiocese’s Corrections Ministry Advisory Committee. A member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, he invites you to meet with him to discuss mentoring by calling 317-590-6970, or e-mailing ewitulski@trustedmentors.org.) †

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