12-06-2016  2:12 am      •     

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) -- Diane Loop bought her house six years ago and planned to live a quiet life.

Did she ever go in another direction.
Loop opened her home to women who have no place to go when they leave prison. "She is an angel who lives in Everett," said Andrey Shaw, a volunteer with Rebuilding Families.
Her group mentors women while they are incarcerated in three Washington prisons. Inmates need safe, clean and sober homes to move to after prison.
Right now, they only have two welcoming landlords on their list of referrals.
"You just don't find people who are capable or willing to do that," Shaw said. "There is no end to the number of homes we could use."
Loop has been a landlord for many years, she said. About five years ago she took in a teenager who had no place to go while her mother was in prison.
After all, Loop had an extra bedroom.
For four years, she drove the teen to the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Purdy to visit her mother. That's a long drive. When the mother was released, she moved in with Loop.
Loop helped them work through anger and trust issues. The mother eventually graduated from Everett Community College.
"Always the hardest working employee where she worked, she could easily rise to the top, except for the fact that a background check would reveal multiple felonies and she would be let go," Loop said. "In a country where we are told that everyone deserves a second chance, her second chance was severely limited."
The mother and daughter have found a place to live and are making it on their own.
"All they needed was a helping hand," Loop said.
So she did her good deed in life.
But Loop was needed again. Rebuilding Families had another tenant, with a 4-year-old daughter, who needed a place to bunk.
Alisha McDuffy, who served her time for a robbery conviction, moved in.
McDuffy said she took several classes in prison about parenting and job skills. She has done restaurant work and would clean houses.
She needs a job and a home. She drops her daughter at a Housing Hope day care center weekdays and rides the bus, looking for work.
"I feel like I'm a burden," McDuffy, 27, said. "Diane needs her space and life back."
With a felony on her record, it is difficult for McDuffy keep up hope, Loop said. Few employers will hire felons.
After McDuffy moved in with Loop in July, a friend from prison also moved in. Loop bought a twin bed and put it in her dining room.
Both women tried to get student aid to attend community college but were denied.
They spent down time learning painting and decoupage from Loop. They all attended church. They shared cooking and cleaning chores.
"Things were a bit crowded," Loop said. "It felt good to see these women experiencing family caring and good decision making."
In December, the dining-room lady went back to the streets.
"She found such limited options in employment and schooling after leaving prison," Loop said. "It apparently became too easy for her to slip back into the old ways of dealing with difficulties, especially after spending time with the old crowd from the streets."
Having raised her own children, and foster kids, too, Loop at age 60 said she is getting a little worn out.
"This little family needs a place of their own and a job," she said. "Does anyone have any ideas to help us out?"
She said the only service they found was clothing for job hunting through at the YWCA wardrobe room. Loop never took in women from prison to fill her house or out of loneliness.
"There was simply a need," she said. "What else do you do when you try to live according to the way you think Jesus would have you live?"
She said it must be easier for society to pretend these women aren't out there struggling.
"It's easier to have them return to prison."

 

 

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