NORA'S Re-Entry Pathway

Re-Entry Resources for formally Incarcerated individuals and their families returning to the community and workforce.

A fundraising campaign for National Offender Reentry Association

Hello my name is Beatrice Settles once Banks, I say once because every since the Memphis Police and Vice Narcotics (now dismantled) destroyed my story book life My marriage ended, children and I became homeless and I became a felon.

Where do I start. 

I meet my husband in 1990 at the age of 13, we married in 1997 at the early age of me 19/ him 22. We had 5 children together always worked, and finally got a low income apartment in 1999. We were surely on our way to becoming a normal family. Well staying in low income 
housing you are subjected to a lot.  But you chose to invovle yourself or mind your own business. We chose to mind our own business and just raise our children and try to get out the best way we could. He worked at Taco bell of 3 years and I was at Pizza Hut. Honest  we were honest people trying to make an honest living the best way we could with the education we had at the time.  After staying there for over 6 years, drugs had somewhat taken over the complex, but still that wasnt our business. 
My husband out washing his car one day and was approched by a neighbor then vice narcotics pulled up. And asked them both what are they doing and searched them. Well the neighbor had something on him; and was given a citation, my husband did not have anything on him and was given a blank citation with ony the police officers name and number on it, he took our car that we had just got with our income tax refund and told my husband that he would get his car back when he helped him make a drug bust over there because he knew what was going on over there and who had what. Refering to the drug dealers. My husband came inside and told me what happended and I was furious. Mainly because I had to go to work and we now didnt have a car  for me to get there and all our tax money was gone. 

The next couple of days I researched and found out who you go to when the police does you wrong, I knew I couldnt go to the police. I found out it was Internal Affairs, so being the wife and thinking we could get justice, I filed a complaint. The car they took; they were riding around in it in the apartments making bust. which made it seem like my husband was setting up the people. This quickly became a problem not only in our home but with him and other people in the apartments. 

After filing the complaint, The police contacted the apartment manager and told them my husband had been arrested for drugs and we were evicted. We had to move within 10 days just like that. But that was only the begining.
We were assigned a investagator at Internal Affairs and quickly became a target by MPD . To this day we do not know what happened, all we know is that our marrage ended, we became homeless, my husband turned to drugs, my children were subjected to a life that we were trying to avoid. At the end of the 10 days we were gathering our things and the same police we had filed the complaint against came to arrest my husband for being on the property of the apartments (trespassing for the alleged citation for drug selling). That made me more furious and not using my head I became verbally angry. I asked one of the officers could I speak to the sergant, to advoid the arrest, because I needed him to help me move as I had no one else to help, but then the unthinkable happend, the officer replied and said "my Sargent don't have time for your wining" so the immature me said f*** yall (under my breath so I thought)and tried to just walk in the house as I was crying. She then ran behind me and put her foot in my door as I was closing the door and came in and arrested me for disorderly conduct. 

So my husband and myself was on our way to jail with 3 of our children still in school at the time and two of them in the house they were 2 and 3 I think.  We both made bail, but our things were stolen as they didnt secure our apartment.... and the marriage we once believed in was coming to a haunt...

 So now  with both of us having to fight this made up case and find somewhere to move with our children we begin to argue on a day to day basis, eventually sending him deeper into the streets and doing drugs,  forcing me to sleep in my van with our children and losing all faith in the police system at all, and eventually commiting crimes myself just to feed the kids and get rooms from night to night.  

We separted in 2005 creating a new battle for me and the kids to face alone. 
 After living homeless for more than 2 years behind this and committing crime to crime to survive I was finally caught and had to do 7 months in jail. That time was truley an awaking for me. I had to forgive those officers and move forward and stop committing crimes to cover up the pain I was feeling from the very people I wanted to once be; THE POLICE,
(yes I wanted to be a police all the way up to this point in my life) It sparked something in my as I knew once I was released that I would have a very hard time getting a job. So I made a list of what I was going to need once I was released, From housing, child support, job skills to transportation. I was going to need it all.  With family never being an option(due to their own struggles) I knew I was going to be on my own BUT I was determined to not go back, to not commit another crime even if it was to help me provide.  I wrote a program that I would try to start once I went home.

So once released, Starting the program was at the forefront of my mind but the struggles to 1 get my children back into my custody , 2 find somewhere to stay, 3 get transportation and other pertant family matters took presidence, I needed a JOB, but  I only applied to jobs that actually could lead to a career and I liked rather than the regualr restaurant jobs I usally apply for.  Finally I landed the perfect job working at a stafiing company. The owner interviewed me and hired me on the spot to research what it took start a home health care company and then to become the administrator of that same company. I was overwhelmed at my progress only after 6 months after my release. I was given a car by my brother in law, I saved enough money to get a 3 bedroom house, and I had a job not only I could grow with but I was making enough money to pay my bills. "Life was Good" 

Still remembering the time I served I always feared my past would taunt me, as no one in the office knew about my past. That would change when the owner asked me to now after all the research was done to become the Vice President of that company, I knew I had to come clean about my past. I worked up enough nerve to tell him why I had not completed to application for licensure. It was because they would perform a background check on all listed officers of the corporation. I spoke with him and the response was not at all expected. He totally understood, and told me to just put him on the application.   

Making a 10 year long story short ; my background issue came up again and we both could not ignore it, so the owner asked me to step down but also said that "he did not like the fact that people still used my past against me because I was such a good worker and it is aparrent that I am not the person I used to be" not wanting to completely fire me, he decided to invest in me and help me to start my own business..... one that no one could use my past against me...because I would be using my past to help others.  We started a non profit to help and assist individuals returning from incarceration get back on track with temporary job assignmets. 

Althouhg the need for such service was very high; the process to get approved as a 501 c 3 was not that easy nor inexpensive at . Having to keep the for profit business from going out of business became the priority however; we were faced with an untimely recession. The dream of me helping others like myself was seeming to be just that a distant dream. 

In 2010 I thought i had gotten a break a local city partnered Community Development Corporation  contracted the non profit I started in 2008 to assist with staffing for the clean up of the BP oil spill, well so  we thought. My investor(my boss) helped me to screen recruit and even allowed me to use his office for meeting and drug testing, he also sponsored me an assistant only to find out that it all was a scam. The man was arrested and I was now out of business, as I took all that we had earned up to that point to ensure that I would meet contract deadlines..... 

Over a 3 month period we had exsausted over $30,000 in payroll, supplies and regular expenses. Only to find out that the person I was doing business with, was only using me to scam others. Everyone I recruited for the job he would was charging a 65.00 drug screen fee, but get this THERE WAS NO CONTRACT. I was so embrassed, I should have done my research.  I completely disconnected from everyone.  
Despite all that had happened the desire to help never left and the individuals that had applied knew that I had no knowledge of what he was doing, they maintained contact by calling and I eventually through my investor(whom I was still working for ) now by that  time became my Contractor  was able to subcontract  10 men transitioning back from incarceration a job for about 6 months at a Walmart in Mountain View, MO.  Over time he helped me to staff over 100 men in different labor positions that way. 
He helped me to see the true person I could be in business all while slowly fulfilling the long awaited dream of helping restore families by employing the head one by one. 
In October of 2013 I loss my sponsor, friend, mentor, and business supporter. I have struggled to maintain what he helped me to start. Today I have an Office located on Covington Pike, with about 130 members (34 still incarcerated pending release within 2 years) I Have purchased 2 homes to become transition homes after renovations, and have maintained my freedom and distance from the criminal system.  While striving for a better ending I realized  that I was creating a pathway for other to follow. I have been excelling constantly since that 1 owner gave me another chance.  Through it all I did not receive any other support other than foodstamps, and when I reported I was working full time that to was cut off.  I have also, finally completed the paperwork for National Offender Re-Entry Association (NORA Inc. ) and was approved as a  501(c)3 organization in 2017.  

Now as I look back at my journey I wonder what would have happened had Internal Affairs treated us as the citizens we were.  

Since receiving Tax exempt status I have started a couple of programs  that helped me while I was incarcerated; a  toy drive for other children affected by parental incarceration, and one I thought of myself which is a Gala  to help moviate more returning offenders to decrease their odds of recidivating (returning to jail )by pledging to be crime free to receive NORA'S program assistance.  

The support Mike (my boss my mentor) provided me was instrumental in my ability to maintain and pursue other career interest. I am a living witness that with the proper support and guidence any person wanting a better life can attain it. 

10 years later I am still helping transitioning offenders with the now limited resources.  Despite the lack of financial ability. If someone can beleive in me, my purpose and my dream for over 6 years by supporting me through employing me and helping to invest in my dream, I just can't give up because I dont have that help any more.  

The need is still there and even greater now. 

Join me in helping to create a better life for a formley incarcerated individual.

Anything donated will help me as well as other members of my organization returning to the community.  With things such as money for ID, gas for transportation, fees for services needed and training to better cope with transitioning and career development.
I am also looking for New Board Members who believe in the mission of the organization.


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About the Organization

National Offender Reentry Association