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Second chances: Houston nonprofit helps former inmates reach full potential

Many people believe everyone deserves a second chance, regardless of their past mistakes. One local nonprofit is putting that belief into action. CrossWalk Center helps change the lives of former inmates by providing the tools and resources needed to succeed upon re-entry into the community.
Many people believe everyone deserves a second chance, regardless of their past mistakes. One local nonprofit is putting that belief into action. CrossWalk Center helps change the lives of former inmates by providing the tools and resources needed to succeed upon re-entry into the community.

HOUSTON – Many people believe everyone deserves a second chance, regardless of their past mistakes. One local nonprofit is putting that belief into action. CrossWalk Center helps change the lives of former inmates by providing the tools and resources needed to succeed upon re-entry into the community. Victor Martinez, a former client of the organization, shared his personal story in hopes of raising awareness about the life-changing program.

“On August 19, 2011 I was locked up in Comal County Jail. I’ve never been in that serious of trouble before,” said Martinez. “I can’t lie to you, I was afraid.”

Houston nonprofit CrossWalk Center helps change the lives of former inmates by providing the tools and resources needed to succeed upon re-entry into the community. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Martinez was sentenced to 15 years in prison and transferred to a unit in Rosharon, Texas. During his incarceration, Martinez quickly learned that planning for the future is a luxury most inmates cannot afford during their incarceration.

“In prison, you don’t necessarily think about what we called ‘The Free World.’ You have to be limited because of your emotions because you become vulnerable, and people prey on those things in prison. At that time all I was doing was just trying to survive,” said Martinez.

Martinez found ways to stay positive and keep busy, such as joining the choir. One day he came across the organization that would provide a beacon of hope for him through the remainder of his sentence.

Victor Martinez (right), CrossWalk Center client, pictured with Pastor Charles Anderson (left), CrossWalk Center Re-Entry Discipleship Program & Housing Director. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

“I was first introduced to CrossWalk Center through a man named Charles Anderson,” said Martinez. “When he said something, he did it, and to me that spoke volumes because in prison that’s all we have. I knew I could rely on CrossWalk because of him.”

After his release from prison in 2020, Martinez utilized his connections with CrossWalk Center to help him transition back into the community. Since then, Martinez has given back to the organization, taking on the role of Facility Manager at one of CrossWalk Center’s halfway houses and helping others with whom he can deeply empathize.

Victor Martinez (left), CrossWalk Center client, pictured at a CrossWalk Center holiday party. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

“When I was afraid, different people here stepped up, encouraged me, motivated me, gave me a job, gave me a sense of self-worth, helping me to realize that I wasn’t a number. That I was an individual. That I was uniquely and wonderfully made, so I am grateful,” said Martinez.

CrossWalk Center is hosting a spring fundraiser called “Changes and Chances” on Friday, April 9 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit the CrossWalk Center website.


About the Author:

Olivia Kolanek is the Features Producer of KPRC 2's Houston Life. She joined the KPRC family in the summer of 2019 after working in non-profit communications for three years. She is passionate about creating content that features good people, good food or a good story. Olivia is a University of Houston alumna, Audible junkie and scuba novice.