Gratitude for a Real Chance

by Marilyn Brown

We all deserve a Real Chance to succeed. Think about a great opportunity you’ve had in your past, something that transformed you or your life path. Think about times when you felt so grateful to have been given that chance. I can share that feeling because I feel so much gratitude for the Real Chances I’ve had through Labyrinth Made Goods.

When Kate, our Director, tasked our team with brainstorming ideas for how we could share our stories, I didn’t have much experience with writing and storytelling. I googled some things to get a better understanding of how I could do this effectively. From there, I went to our existing materials and saw a phrase that gave me instant gratification, “We believe in second chances.” For me, this was it, this was the one, this was the perfect theme to tell our stories. But I had to be ready to explain to the team why. Why was this the perfect way to help our supporters understand the impact they have when they make a donation or gift a Labyrinth Made Goods candle?

As a woman who has experienced incarceration, I am all too familiar with the stigmas that surround folks who have been incarcerated. The constant feeling of shame, disgrace. I am well aware of the fact that I have blemished my reputation. However, I paid my debt to society and have since learned from those things. So when will I be given a Real Chance to rebuild and succeed? How can I take action in the present and look to the future when employers, landlords, and my community are judging me solely on my past? 

A Real Chance Poem

Labyrinth Made Goods has given me a Real Chance and gratitude is the attitude! Grateful to be defined by more than a prison sentence. There are no words that can fully describe what it feels like to finally be given a Real Chance to showcase my talents and skills. 

During my apprenticeship, I have contributed ideas and suggestions that created new sales opportunities for Labyrinth Made Goods. My ideas have had a major impact on the ways we talk about the experiences and impact of Labyrinth Made Goods. I have been given the opportunity to lead projects that have helped us better achieve our business goals. I learned that I have leadership skills because I’ve had the opportunity to step into leadership roles. I trained Candice when she was promoted to Assistant Director because I was the expert on our local pick up order process and pop up events. Even though she had a higher position than me within Labyrinth Made Goods, she relied on my leadership to learn new procedures and skills so she could do her job more effectively. I didn’t know I had leadership skills in this capacity, so I am beyond grateful to Labyrinth Made Goods for creating this opportunity for me.

Black Woman Working at Laptop

I’m grateful for a Real Chance to help build a foundation where we can amplify the voices of women who have experienced incarceration. At Labyrinth Made Goods, I have been asked for my opinion more than I ever have in my entire life. I was never taught to believe my opinion was important, let alone, necessary. LMG allows my story to be told and my voice to be heard and valued. My voice is being amplified through the stories we share on our social media channel, newspaper articles, speaking events, and more! I’m certain I would’ve never had the opportunity to be heard in this manner, had it not been for LMG. Believe me when I say, I am BEYOND grateful! 

I’m grateful for a Real Chance to be a part of this movement. This movement is bigger than any one of us or even Labyrinth Made Goods alone. If you're reading this, you can join us and be part of the movement to support Real Chances for women who are rebuilding their lives after incarceration by purchasing our products, making donations, following us on social media, and sharing our stories with your friends and family. Together we can work to break down the internal stereotypes and stigmas society consciously or subconsciously holds about people like me who have experienced incarceration. You can demand that we have equitable opportunities for education, employment, and housing. You can help us change the narrative about incarceration and support changes to our legal and court systems that punish people long after they’ve served their time. You can share our stories with your friends and family to help us shine a light on the true potential and talents of women who have experienced incarceration. We are leaders; we contribute just as much as anyone else when we’re given a Real Chance to do it. You can make a difference.

Join us and be part of this movement.