Pathways Creates New Paths: Russell Urban’s Journey

Tomas Martinez works at La Plazita Institute as a Navigator for the Pathways to a Healthier Bernalillo County program. Over 80 percent of returning citizens end up back in the judicial system within 6 months of being released from incarceration. In addition to that, children whose parents are incarcerated are 10 times more likely to engage in criminal behavior. While these statistics point out a major issue, Tomas is working to change this. Every day his job entails helping his clients and their families access the services they need including: healthcare, education, transportation, housing, and employment...

Tomas Martinez (pictured left) works at La Plazita Institute as a Navigator for the Pathways to a Healthier Bernalillo County program. Over 80 percent of returning citizens end up back in the judicial system within 6 months of being released from incarceration. In addition to that, children whose parents are incarcerated are 10 times more likely to engage in criminal behavior. While these statistics point out a major issue, Tomas is working to change this. Every day his job entails helping his clients and their families access the services they need including: healthcare, education, transportation, housing, and employment.

In Russell Urban’s (Pictured right) case, these were all services he needed help with. But time and time again, never had the tools he needed to access them and ended up back at square one. “It’s like being a car mechanic and trying to work on a car without any tools” says Russell. La Plazita and Pathways eventually became the tools he needed to move forward.

It all started 10 days after Russell was released. By coincidence Russell happened to run into Tomas outside a courthouse and although Tomas was a familiar face, something about him was very different. Tomas handed Russell his card, and told him that if he needed help, to give him a call.

Tomas’s card states his title as Outreach/ Promotor Worker and while Russell had no idea what that meant, he was curious to find out. Russell eventually contacted Tomas to see if he could actually help him.

The first thing Tomas asked Russell, was “Are you ready for change brother?” and just as Russell had said many times before, he said “Yes, I am”. But every other time Russell had ever said “I’m ready for change”, he didn’t actually have the resources he needed to change the circumstances.

With the help from Tomas, Russell has been able to change his circumstances quite drastically. Lacking transportation at the time, Tomas managed to get Russell a bike to give him some more mobility, he also helped get him on food stamps, and sign up for a healthcare program he could afford.

While the idea of going back to school seemed far fetched, Tomas helped Russell sign up for classes at Central New Mexico Community College. Russell is now only a few semesters away from having the education he needs to be a Substance Abuse Counselor.

As a navigator, Tomas helps his clients directly. If a client needs help applying for food stamps, he’ll go with them and wait in line with them. Half the battle is having the patience to take one step at a time, and Tomas mentions that when returning citizens have been waiting for so long, they don’t have the patience to wait any longer.

Russell is a true success story. As a result of Pathways, he has a job as a ceramics instructor at La Plazita Institute, housing, a sense of security, a new knee, he is now pursuing a degree, and has been reunited with his son. “My son helps keep me on track.” says Russell. It’s been a little over a year and a half since Tomas approached Russell and offered to help him. Today, thanks to Tomas and Pathways, Russell isn’t just surviving, he is living and happy.

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commented 2013-10-07 12:34:30 -0600 · Flag
Orale Tomas. Keep up the great work!
Daryl
EleValle
Building a healthy community in the South Valley of ABQ