301: Helping To Rebuild Families After Re-Entry – with LeTeisha Gordon

301: Helping To Rebuild Families After Re-Entry - with LeTeisha Gordon

Meet LeTeisha

LeTeisha was born in Richmond, Virginia, she graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in 1994. She is a serial entrepreneur and has been self-employed for over 17 years. LeTeisha uses her life experiences to motivate and to find ways to help others. She’s the Founder and CEO of A Better Day Than Yesterday Initiative Program, where they help families rebuild their relationships during and after incarceration, divorce, and deployment. She specializes in re-entry and family reunification.

How did you get started in the work that you do?

I was invited to a five-day event to speak on a panel for entrepreneurs about entrepreneurship and it was a Father’s Day event. On that panel, it was me, other invites, government agencies, and returning citizens. So the guy asked me, “How do you rebuild a relationship with someone that’s been incarcerated?” When he asked me that, it took everything out of me. On that ride home, God said, that’s your purpose because two weeks prior to that I asked him, “What is my purpose? What am I here?” I know I’m here to be an entrepreneur, I know I’m here to help people, but I’m not being fulfilled, I’m not feeling successful in any of it. After that event, he let me know that was it because my dad and I weren’t talking at the time and he had been home at that point for 16 years. We had a terrible disconnect when he came home, trying to rebuild our relationship. So that’s how I got started and I’ve been affected by incarceration since I was five years old so it actually started way before I realized I was here for this purpose.

What keeps you motivated to keep doing what you’re doing?

I know there’s a need for it and I’m surrounded by it. My son just came home which made it more personal other than my father, my brother, my aunt, my uncle, and my mother. So my son came on July 13, 2020, last year during a pandemic, and he was incarcerated for 18 months. Just being around the kids that are in our programs, and how they talk about their relationship with their father or their mother who are incarcerated, it touches your heart. So, you know you have work to do, and you just have to keep doing it so I just feel that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Do you work with the families that are anticipating the re-entry on how to best prepare, or what does that relationship look like?

So the idea of it is to get with the family before the person is actually going to be serving the time so that we can navigate the family through the system throughout their journey. Before the pandemic we were going into the institutions, bringing awareness to the unintentional victim, and the father wound. So now during the pandemic and we’re reconstructing our program, we’re waiting right now on IRB approval for a study to do on six families to help them navigate after incarceration, how to start rebuilding that relationship and that’s the 12-week program. During that pro 12 week program, they were there in life skill every week. Every Monday they will do a debriefing with a social worker and an intern, and then every four weeks, they will do a family engagement activity. Then on the 12th week, they will do a weekend retreat from Friday to that Sunday. So right now, this is the first time we’re ever doing the family as a whole because before we were doing it as pieces, like we were talking to the parent and do something with the parent, but it would not be their child that’s in the program. So now we’re doing it while we’re selecting the whole family that was affected to participate in this 12-week program.

How many years has it been since you started this work, and does your program serve across the US, or mainly locally?

This is the fourth year now. You have to find your niche, but when it all boils down to I never strayed away from the point of the family. The only thing that we added on that just became part of our initiative is called Operation Freedom Package which is open to anyone that’s been incarcerated, regardless of conviction other than sex offenders. Now that we are going virtually we’re able to assist all across the world. That’s the best part about it, because we were just limited to Virginia and now we have a family in Delaware, and we have that Father’s house in Petersburg. So I can’t wait to make that connection when visitation opens back up and we’re able to make that connection happen between the children and their parents.

Can you share with our listeners some of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you’ve had?

One of my favorite networking experiences was when I was looking for a motivational speaker to speak for our Build a Dad workshop and it was through word of mouth and I was meeting everybody on the phone. Just so happen I came across this guy named Vincent White, and he was busy that weekend that we were having the event. I had met the guy that gave me Vincent’s number at a networking event, and I just so happened to talk to Vince and he gave me another person’s number whose name was Mr. White and his wife actually sent him the flyer earlier that day and asked him if he knew me and he was like, “No, I don’t know anything about it,” So when I called him, I had known that his wife had forwarded him that flyer and he said, “Hey my wife just showed me your flyer,” and then we laughed about it and we and he’s been my mentor to this day.

How do you stay in front of and nurture the relationships you have created?

So I attend networking events, virtually or in-person by just keeping people in the loop of what I’m doing, forming groups where we can share our information on what we’re doing so that we can stay connected. Also, just by partnering and doing events and things, which helps to keep the relationship going, especially if they have turned out good events and everybody’s taking a group interest in what we’re doing and growing their business as well as mine. 

What advice would you offer that business professional is really looking to grow their network?

I would suggest they join different networking groups, social groups. Then somebody is dependent on what that professional is, there’s always a Facebook group, there’s always a group that’s going to be doing free workshops that you find on Eventbrite. You can always look for hashtags to find a networking group in your city or state. I just think, drawing in different groups is what helped me and then once I started joining these different groups, I got to see what type of person I needed to connect with, and then I got to know who to connect with.

If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?

I would say that I would have wanted to party more! I mean, I party, don’t get me wrong. I would just say, I am glad that I did party when I did, I’m glad I had my kids when I did because now I have grown a lot more and I’m more mature and more focused now. So back then, when you’re growing up without guidance, and if you’re not that focused person, you will tend to not think about the things you should think about and I’m glad it happened how it happened, and I’m glad it’s happening now. Because now my kids are grown and now I’m able to put my focus on my mission and I’m happy about the journey. So I really wouldn’t change anything, I just think I would have partied a bit more!

Connect with LaTeisha

A Better Day Than Yesterday’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abetterdaythanyesterday 

Instagram: @abetterdaythanyesterday

Website: https://www.abetterdayassoc.org/ 

LeTeisha’s email: abetterdayassoc@gmail.com