A New Way of Life – From Prison to Peace
December 10th, 2012 · No Comments
Organization after being jailed By Valerie Milano Hollywood, CA (Hollywood Today) 12/10/2012 – “Certainly any form of re-entry; most films or television series tend to celebrate criminality and glorify violence. That’s why I’m here, because this is important.” – Lenny James (Columbiana) speaking with Hollywood Today about his involvement with A New Way of Life (ANWOL). Last night, the elegant Omni Hotel held Diamonds & Pearls: Beauty Through Adversity, a celebrity gala in support of A New Way of Life (ANWOL). Founded in 1998 by Susan Burton, the non-profit organization helps incarcerated women transition back into society after their release by providing sober living accommodations in an environment that is encouraging and supportive. The 14th Annual Fundraising Gala was hosted by Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter) and was a star-studded event that provided celebrities and families from ANWOL an opportunity to share their stories, bridging the gap of human understanding. “The people who really take, you know, take that as serious, they should be allowed to join the rest of society and start their life again.” Wilmer Valderrama (That 70’s Show) when asked why he supports ANWOL. Several awards were presented to those who have made outstanding efforts on behalf of this powerful and life changing organization. The evening also featured performances by jazz troupe Gongfarmer Collective and a special appearance by American Idol semi-finalist, Michelle Delamor. The energy throughout the banquet hall was beaming with the pride and appreciation that only comes from overcoming steep obstacles and having learned another one of life’s lessons. A lesson that ANWOL founder Susan Burton is no stranger to. Burton started the organization after being jailed repeatedly for drug offenses. Having lost her five-year-old son in a car crash in 1981, she began using drugs to deal with the grief, and soon found herself on a downward spiral that included years of addiction and the subsequent incarcerations. Ultimately she found sobriety in 1997 and just a year later had saved enough money to buy a home in Watts, opening her doors to women right from the beginning. “To me, there’s this real window of opportunity to get people from incarceration into a positive lifestyle,” says Burton. Currently, ANWOL has five homes and is able to support up to 22 women at a time. Though that number may not seem extraordinary, when you measure the impact this program has on those select individuals and their families, you realize how tremendous this really is. Statistically, the majority of people who become incarcerated will continue to do so throughout their life. Susan Burton is a shining example of someone who was able not only to break the cycle, but also use her experiences to help others do the same. Now, the word has spread to inmates who send 20 to 30 letters per week seeking counsel from Burton and hoping to find peace beyond prison at A New Way of Life.