According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, nearly 5 million children across the United States have had a parent incarcerated at some point of their lives.
From news outlet KQED, out of that 5 million, 200,000 children in California currently have a parent in state prison. Parental incarceration disconnects families and creates unstable environments that can leave long lasting effects on children in their development, resulting in potential drug abuse and homelessness.
Founder and Executive Director Michelle Perkins of Turning Point is dedicated to addressing these social issues in Los Angeles by improving family dynamics with life-changing resources that support men, women, parents, and transitional aged youth who have been affected and marginalized by addiction, trauma, homelessness, and incarceration.
Their mission to restore, repair, and rebuild families has been the non-profit’s main focus since 2009. Their programs include mental health assistance, re-entry assistance using a whole person care model, assistance with housing, and supportive services.
Through her personal experience, Perkins became a community leader and drug and alcohol educator after being formerly incarcerated. In recent interview with the L.A. Sentinel, Perkins shared, “The last trip to prison, I decided I didn’t want to continue to abuse drugs. I wanted to be a pillar in my community and give back to people who have suffered drug addiction, homelessness, and that revolving door surrounding incarceration. Most importantly, I didn’t want to continue to not be a part of my children’s lives.”
Turning Point has now expanded their reach through transformative initiatives like their safe house. In partnership with Susan Burton’s A New Way of Life organization, Turning Point has housed a total of 45 women since 2019. The house is in South L.A. and plays a pivotal role in rehabilitating women and helping them secure housing during their toughest times.
When asked about the safe house’s impact, Perkins explained, “Long-term drug abuse and long-term homelessness deserve to have long-term treatment. No one can get their lives together in six months, it’s impossible.
“The women are able to stay at the safe house until they feel ready to live life independently. Seeing the women on their journey and reuniting them with their families and children have meant the most to me.”
In addition to their services, Turning Point also hosts a variety of community events that address disparities in access to healthy food, feminine hygiene products, essential school supplies, and reliable transportation. Each year, they host an annual Back to School Giveaway to provide underprivileged students with the proper items for learning.
With the help of their volunteers and youth department, Turning Point also assists with securing employment and offers career opportunities within the organization. Their regularly scheduled food distributions feed 300 individuals every second and fourth Friday of each month.
Perkins encourages individuals seeking help to be sincere when considering entering a program, saying, “The advice I would give to those looking to enter the program is to be sincere, be sincere and open to changing your life and all the suggestions that come with it.
“When we’re sober, we’re able to feel as opposed to when we were using to numb the feelings. Don’t give up and don’t allow your past to define who you are. Move forward and strive, don’t let other people dictate your path of life.”
For the next 10-15 years, Turning Point aims to open two additional safe houses in Los Angeles to house women and children to continue their mission to help individuals reenter society after being incarcerated.
Turning Point will host their Back to School event on Saturday, July 29, at their main office located at 3756 Santa Rosalia Drive, Suite 617, in Los Angeles. This year, they will also host their annual toy drive during the holidays. In December 2022, they gave over 2,000 children new toys for Christmas.
Get involved with Turning Point and learn more by visiting https://turningpointaod.com, donate at https://connect.clickandpledge.com/w/Form/0faccc3a-f9ef-4f37-a1f7-c676df122a19 or volunteer at https://turningpointaod.com/contact/.