Everyone has made mistakes and learned from them. There are some mistakes that tend to come with a stigma & follow us around for what seems like forever. Statistics are how we can gauge the probability of success within a certain set of circumstances. Statistics are how we know African American males are 3x more likely to get killed by police officers than their fellow Caucasian Americans. Americans take statistics seriously. Kelly & I have overcame the most drastic odds. Artists, whether it be with paint, photography, or stencils capture an image that can be depicted in many different ways. Here's a few statistics that will paint a picture of our past. Yes, at one point in time we were considered a statistic. We are no longer a number; we are not that 80%.
Lets talk more numbers. Did you know for every 100,000 people in America 810 are in jail or prison? America has the highest incarceration rate in the WORLD! Yes the land of the free and the home of the brave. Ohhh the irony. What happens when you get released you ask? Well surviving life after lock up is a completely different story. Why you ask? Tragically most people never make it 9 years without being arrested again. That is called Recidivism. Recidivism ( definition ) is the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend again. Guess what more statistics again! A simple google search will show that even if you survive to 9 years of freedom your luck eventually runs out. These are proven facts. Don't get me wrong there are multiple underlying factors that have a role in reincarceration rates but how can you overcome a situation that you were never given the tools to face or combat? It's really hard. When all you have been taught is how to survive a certain way that is all you know. Old habits die hard.
Touchy subject. PSA warning, this part is about addiction! READ AT OWN DISCRESTION. Heroin Addiction is considered an epidemic . 1 out of every 4 people that tries heroin becomes addicted. Another terrifying statistic is 80% of people who use heroin will slip back into relapse and addiction. Methamphetamine is no different. Addiction is a very controversial topic to discuss and everyone has their own opinions. I will stick to our personal experiences to give you all an idea of where we have been to show that you don't have to be where you have always been! I will begin with myself ( Bre ) then I will tell Kelly's' story.
I am 29 years old. Born in July of 1992 and raised in Youngstown, Ohio. One of the poorest cities in Ohio & our nation. Murder capital three times in the early 2000's. Small town where people drop dead like flies every single day. I lived with three different generations in my household. The old school way of growing up, Catching fireflies in our front yard, playing in the dirt outside, getting the new Game-Boy every year for Christmas but at the same time only being allowed to walk as far as 3 house down from ours. Growing up I attended 3 funerals. My great grandma DuBois, PaPa Dave & the hardest was my Grandma Judy. After my Grandma Judy died is when I began abusing prescription pills. I went to private schooling my entire life except for 7-8th grade. Between public and private schooling there honestly there is no difference within their education. The only difference is MONEY. They don't teach you how to cope with loss, how to control your emotions, they don't teach you how to identify your feelings, how to become self sufficient, the importance of budgeting, or financial literacy. Their curriculum is a biased lesson plan on top of subtle conditioning to make sure you can sit in class for 8 hours a day so you can do it in your adult life when you work 8-14 hour days. The lack of life skills passed down from generations and generations in our society is nonexistent. Kelly & I discuss this issue on almost a daily basis. I take full accountability for my mishaps, actions, and mistakes. There is so much they should teach us in school but there are valid reasons they don't. One thing that private school taught me that weed was bad and so were drugs. D.A.R.E didn't teach me that meth & heroin destroy your body from the inside out and that you'll completely lose yourself . They failed to teach me that prolonged meth use can cause heart failure and sepsis. When I was 10 I began looking after my little brother. My teenager years were spent helping take care of my family. I had emotions I had no idea how to handle. They were unpleasant, depressing, and unbearable. My logical solution at 15 years old was to make them go away. Which is where the pills came in. I worked fast food from 16-26 because that was all I knew. I was never taught to save, manage money, or how to get out of poverty. I was on a never ending cycle of working until I couldn't physically work anymore. I know now that is not how it has to be. Fast-forward from 14 to 23 I am now living in Parker, Colorado. That is 10 years addicted and only 5 years I came to the realization I even had a problem. That is when I moved on to the hardcore substances. November 2015 I was arrested for the first time. It took 4 more years, 5 more arrests, 3 felony charges, 1 lung removed from Pneumococcal Pneumonia & lengthy sentence to realize I couldn't do it anymore. The most crystal clear day was waking up hand cuffed to a hospital bed and being told I probably wouldn't survive surgery. That same day I was thinking about getting high. I had been discharged for 10 days. At my Aunt Patty's house recovering my mother helped me shower, my little brother Chris was helping me walk up and down the stairs. I could barley move. I was 87 lbs. Yet on that tenth day after getting 32 staples removed from a lobectomy I left to go get high. Sounds like a death sentence right? It was. I am not sure how to express the despair and emptiness that consumes you throughout addiction. What I know is that my bestfriend in Youngstown Stephanie Louise Gonda died from a heroin overdose while I was in Denver County jail in June of 2016. What did I do? I bought all the drugs in H-Pod and was high for a week. The opiate crisis is all around us. All across our country people are losing their life to this substance. I am grateful that I have maintained my sobriety and I am alive here today. To anybody who is reading this who has struggled or knows somebody who has struggled it is possible. I will never say it is easy. Keep fighting for yourself and your loved ones.
Perception is reality.
See for reasons I don't have time to get in to right now (or I would end up writing a book the size of a Harry Potter novel) I was never taught that success could be me. I had this intentional conditioned idea that somebody who was wealthy, owned businesses, and sustained their life style was a white male in their 40's & 50's.( there is nothing wrong with successful 40-50 year old men by the way ) I was never ever informed that it was possible for somebody like myself to own a business. The pandemic gave me an opportunity I had never once in my life had before. I had nothing but time to self reflect on everything I had been through, my actions/reactions, my habits, and where I was at in life. I focused on myself and my mental health. I began reading up on millionaires, entrepreneurs, business owners, and self help books. All day everyday I spent time thinking about our future. In my past I never thought about next month, next, year, or 5 years ahead. I survived day by day. For the first time I planned ahead. Where did I want to be and how would I get there. Kelly constantly reminds me all the time of my behavior when I first got laid off. I felt lazy, useless, and anxious. I felt as if I needed to work myself to death to feel normal. It's all connected to what we've been taught since we were little. You need to go to school, get perfect grades, participate in all the extra curriculars, graduate high school, get into college, and work 60 hours a week. Spend all your time there, work over-time, miss holidays, and waste half your life working while making less than median income as inflation rises each year with no raise received. MIND-BLOWING conditioning most of the population succumbs to. Kelly preached to me that our life can be more than that. We just needed to figure out how and quickly. Do you remember when you were little and you had all these ideas and thought anything was possible? As we get older and realize how the world works I think we lose our dreams and gift of imagination. Our boundaries are what we make them. We have a huge goal in mind. Everyone's is different so some people dream of owning real estate, a construction company, or buying a house. They fantasize about it. Take the time to research it and then they see all that it takes to achieve it; then give up. Our limitations begin and end with ourselves. I think a major barrier is fear of the unknown or failure. Simply feeling to overwhelmed processing all our dreams take to become a reality is another one. " Everything that exists today was an idea in somebody's brain" Kelly tells me. What I am trying to get to is that we control our lives. During this hiatus from work I read articles, listened to YouTube videos, audiobooks, and whatever material I could find on entrepreneurs, business owners, credit, and empowerment. It's 2021 there are resources everywhere; USE THEM! The thing about these millionaires & CEO's is that they think big. They don't think with an entry level assistant mindset. They reach for the moon and the stars. Yes I know there are plenty of people who were born in to money but I'm speaking about those who went through the worst of the worst but never gave up on their dreams or themselves then reached their success. You are just as capable; just like Kelly and I.
It wasn't until I met Kelly in October of 2019 that I found out what a credit score was and that I had one. Kelly & I met when we were both in halfway houses. I was a manager at one of the most infamous Taco Bell's off of Colfax that he also worked at. We became friends. He had just got out from doing 13 years in maximum security prisons. I knew he was different. He spoke in a calm respectful manner, super intelligent, and kind. He was my life mentor in more ways than I can count. He taught me so much. We have some intense chemistry; so much that we would be on the phone for 6+ hours straight . After a year and a half we committed ourselves to one another. His dreams were more than I had ever imagined were possible. Owning a business? How could we do that? Where do we even start? Looking back to when Covid first hit it seemed like the world was on the verge of collapsing. I know the pandemic destroyed our economy, peoples lives ,and America was the hardest hit. We saw it as an opportunity. Most of my life I have worked the hardest out of many of my fellow co workers. As you know we aren't paid by our worth. Which was frustrating for me. That is what we are all taught * Work really hard for your entire life. Thinking about it our society brags about working 60 hour work weeks and barley seeing loved ones. That isn't how Kelly wanted to live his life. Being locked up make you realize how precious time really is. Time is money that cannot be replaced. Back to Bre's Bites which is why I am here. How did it come about? Well that ties into Kelly's story. He actually pushed for me to get on board with him. Initially I declined but eventually I gave in.
This our first blog entry. I really want everyone to know the obstacles and struggles we have made it through. We have fought our way through addiction, incarceration, and lack of education to become small business owners. Thank you for reading if your at this point. We appreciate the support and the curiosity of our why. Our why is to help us others who have been through similar circumstances we have. Everyone has to start somewhere and Bre's Bites is our first business of many to come. Check back tomorrow for Kelly's story!