I went to prison on a mission. A mission to change myself and a mission to make a difference. I didn't know how I’d make a difference at the time, but I knew I would find something I cared about that would benefit from a purpose driven facelift.
Coming to prison as a first-time offender was unnerving, and I felt so much anxiety at first. If you think its hard on the outside to eat a healthy diet, being in prison brings that challenge to the next level. I think most people I shared my time with would attest to the fact that food is often a way to combat anxiety and depression. Maintaining a healthy balance is difficult, and when this poses a challenge to your self image it just makes an already depressing situation worse, like adding insult to injury.
It was only a month or so in when I noticed that some of the women were making their own popcorn recipes with the ingredients possible within the food budget. I was instantly struck by how really smart and creative it was. Popcorn was like this simple blank canvas for women of all backgrounds to express themselves through different mixes of spices and other flavours.
A lot of people love popcorn, and it is cheap to buy and goes a long way. It's also so much healthier than baked goods and most of the junk food that was available in the canteen. It is one of those snacks you can eat a lot of when you feel restless and bored and not feel super guilty about it. It’s also a social snack. You usually make a giant bowl of it for you and your friends to share over some conversation, games or watching something on TV. You can also just eat one kernel at a time, the bowl can last for hours, and you do not have to worry about gaining weight.
So it all sort of all came together at once: I would start a popcorn company that uses high quality health-conscious ingredients and makes unique flavours inspired by the ones we made inside prison. Most of all, it try to remove some of the stigma of having prior convictions by being totally fun and having a sense of humour about itself. The company can give offenders the opportunity and confidence to gain and maintain pro-social employment, keeping the community safer by helping ex-cons refrain from returning to their old ways. It just seemed like all the stars had aligned and overnight it became my mission to build this company. Cons and Kernels, made with conviction!
Growing up I was that child that wanted to change the world . I wanted to fill the tummy's of all those who went to bed hungry, I wanted to bring every single homeless person home and give them a safe place to stay. I wanted to make a difference. This was my DREAM! I didn't know how I would do it, but I was convinced that someday my dream would come true. I was going to save the lives of thousands, little did I know I was the one who would need saving. Life threw me some curve balls that I was not expecting .
I became an addict who knew the girl who wanted to change the world would become a part of the drug scene. Drugs, drugs and more drugs this became my life I cared about nothing else but where I was going to get my next fix. After a long battle I eventually hit that rock bottom so they say, and decided it was time MY TIME to get clean. I knew it wouldn't be easy but I knew it was life or death, and I chose life. I am proud to say that with the help of Narcotics anonymous and some great supports I have been clean for 11 years. In this time I went back to school and became a Child and Youth Worker. I now have a new love for myself and those around me .
Because of companies like Comeback Snacks, who believe in second chances, I am able to share my story and feel that one day my dream WILL come true. But for now I will take one day at time and continue to work for a company that believes in us, along with my other job working with children I do get to change their little lives one smile at time. I give thanks to all those who never gave up on me, and pushed me to keep going.