Claremore Daily Progress

Business

March 9, 2014

Advocates for Others: Bear helps women start over after incarceration

CLAREMORE —

She Brews Coffee House owner Rhonda Bear promotes positive change to women struggling with troubled pasts, such as incarceration. Through a healthy work environment, Bear provides the individuals with opportunities to develop life skills as they re-enter society.
She said inspiration to begin the nonprofit organization came from the lessons she learned through her own incarceration.
Thirteen years ago, Bear received a 10-year sentence for illegal drug use.
“What I did to my children through my drug addiction broke their hearts. I totally failed them time and time again,” said Bear. “That grief was so horrific, that when I went to prison, I told them that I was coming back and I was coming back different.”
After completing a 12-month drug reahabilitation program, Bear was released and relocated to a transition home where she needed to complete necessary rehab steps to be able to see her children again.
“While in prison, I was determined to change my life to get them back, and I did get them back,” she said. “So for ten years I’ve worked really hard to make a better life for them.”
Currently in Oklahoma, there are more than 28,000 children with an incarcerated parent, and they are broken, Bear added.
“If we don’t stop the cycle, those children are headed to prison through drugs or unhealthy relationships.”
Seven years ago, Bear married, moved to Claremore and began to minister to women inmates at the Rogers County Jail. During that time, she opened her first transition home for women just out of prison. Today, she has four homes in Rogers County and is getting ready to open her fifth.
“In housing these women and helping them reconnect with their children, I realized I need to help them find employment. “With that on my mind, I began to educate them and train them to become women of excellence in our community.”

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