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Atlantic County man goes from incarceration to inspiration

  • Community

Taryn Thompson-Frazier’s road to success had an unlikely beginning.

It all started with a plan hatched in the Atlantic County Justice Facility.

“I created my blueprint,” he says. “A five-year plan so I wouldn’t have to come back there.”

That plan was cultivated while serving an eventual 42-month prison sentence in a gun and drug case.

Since coming home in 2021, Thompson ran a food truck with his brother and started his own company whose first endeavor — T-Frazier Spotless Solutions — has secured four cleaning contracts so far. 

He also works at the Ideal Institute of Technology's Center for Social Impact as an impact liaison, helping those who are where he was onto a new path.

This fall, he will start college as part of the inaugural class of Ideal’s partnership with Centenary University

The work-based college program provides vocational training and a salary. His stepson, who is graduating Absegami High School, will join him.

The Pleasantville man wants to be a “beacon of light” to those who might believe their future is defined by their past bad choices.

The 28-year-old father of four knows that things can turn around.

His start in life wasn’t an easy one.

Thompson–Frazier was born two months after his father was fatally gunned down in Philadelphia. At 5, his mother died of a heart attack.

His sister got custody and moved them to Atlantic City for better opportunities, he says.

Then, Thompson became a father at 15.

He tried to work to make money to provide for his son. But his hours as a cook were limited due to his age.

Thompson-Frazier came by the drug trade as a way to supplement his income.

“I got a gun to protect myself,” he said, like many who make their living on the streets. “Eventually it caught up to me.”

That came in the form of a car stop along Tennessee Avenue in Atlantic City.

Inside the car, Detective Anthony Abrams found a loaded rifle with a 25-round extended magazine, additional ammunition and prescription pills, police said at the time.

    Taryn Thompson-Frazier's photos from prison sit atop the well-worn book where he mapped out his blueprint for success after his release.
 
 

Thompson-Frazier was taken to jail, where he decided he needed to start planning for a new life.

He remembers that first day in a holding cell with at least 15 other people and one bench.

“It was terrifying,” he recalls. “We were shoulder-to-shoulder in there.”

The county was dark, dirty and allowed for no privacy.

He talked about his journey last month at a luncheon celebrating Centenary University opening at Ideal.

Then he shared that story on social media, including commenting on a 2018 post about his arrest.

“I don’t want you to take those stories down,” he told BreakingAC. “It’s my story where I came from.”

It wound up being a vital step that led him down his current path.

Now he offers others the insight of his own experience, starting with making their own plan for life after incarceration.

Thompson-Frazier’s blueprint is contained in a well-worn composition notebook filled with pages of plans. It even has a table of contents.

He flips through it as he talks about his own path that began in 2021, when the Department of Corrections referred him to 121 S. Main St., Ideal’s first Pleasantville location.

There he met Ren Parikh, Ideal’s chief executive officer.

Parikh became his mentor and Ideal the vehicle to take him down this new road.

Thompson-Frazier started out at Ideal's wood shop on Main Street, which led to construction and OSHA certification.

    Rahul Mokaria, director of Ideal's youth program, shows the wood shop at the Main Street location in Pleasantville.
 

His first task was the building of the Eternal Gandhi Peace Centre in the Tanger Outlets on Arkansas Avenue.

Now he spends his time helping others build their futures.

“I believe that’s God’s calling for me: To help everyone in the position I was in,” Thompson-Frazier says. “We remove any barrier to help them obtained a successful re-entry.”

He knows that he could need help again one day, so he is building a community of people as well.

“I want you to go 10 times farther than me,” he says of those he helps. “If I empower 10 people, that’s 10 people I can call to pick me back up. If we don’t empower each other, nothing changes.”

Anyone looking for help can call the Center for Social Impact at 609-318-8011 or come to the center at 198 St. James Place in Atlantic City.

Thompson-Frazier can be reached via email at tthompson@iitnj.edu or call/text 609-665-9130.


author

Lynda Cohen

Lynda Cohen founded BreakingAC after working as a local newspaper reporter for more than two decades. She is an NJPA award-winner and was a Stories of Atlantic City fellow.

Sunday, June 16, 2024
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