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Online panel will discuss resiliency after incarceration

HAPPENING NOW

Resiliency is a word that got used a lot as the pandemic left many people out of work and stuck at home last year.
But for those who have been incarcerated, it can mean the difference between starting a new life or being pulled back down the same path.
“People don’t know where to start when they want to start over,” said Atlantic City native Turkessa Lee, a licensed clinical social worker.            
That’s why she and longtime friend, LuQuay Zahir, will host an online panel at 7 p.m. Wednesday, bringing together men who have been in prison.
Zahir will be one of five men sharing their experiences and opening up about their own pasts in an effort to help those who may feel lost.
Lee said she is in awe of how Zahir is constantly looking to improve and find ways to help his community.
While she wants to keep the conversation free-flowing, some topics that will be addressed include the first night after being booked, family support, the men’s biggest adjustments and advice for those just released from incarceration.
“These are important things in our community,” Lee said.
Her four jobs bring her clients from 3 years old in school to adults with legal issues, so she knows well the ills many are facing.
That’s why she and Zahir decided to start talking about their own experiences and looking for ways to help.
In November, the two hosted a panel with five others entitled “Sexual Predators & Black Families: Keeping Our Children Safe.”
The frank discussion drew a much larger audience than Lee expected, so she and Zahir decided to keep the momentum going with more of these conversations.
But “it’s not enough to just talk,” Lee said.
So the discussion will include lists of resources for those who may be looking for help.
“These are places that provide services to help you get on the path to be the best version of yourself,” she explained.
While Lee has never been incarcerated, she said she is always looking for ways to help her community even beyond the social work she does.
“I don’t sit high and look low,” she said. “I want to help my people get to a place where they can just heal. We can build wellness. We can build community.”
The men have decided to open up because of the trust they have for her and Zahir, Lee explained.
Some may judge them for their pasts, but it’s their desire to help others with their futures that makes the conversation relevant and important.
“LuQuay and I are really working to create change in our community,” Lee said. “We need the support and the people just to share so this area can be better holistically.”
The panel will be posted as a Zoom webinar and shared to Lee’s Facebook via Live.

The previous online panel garnered more than 2,100 views. So Turkessa Lee and LuQuay Zahir decided to continue the momentum with Wednesday’s panel.

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