ABOUT DAN AND OUR MISSION
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My Past vs My Present
Ninety percent of the past thirty years of my life has been spent behind bars – in jails, prisons, and institutions. Four years ago, I made the conscious decision to kick the habit of returning to jail. I made a series of changes to my attitude, my beliefs, and my habits. I changed the path I was on, for good.
My life today looks nothing like the one I was living, or the one anyone around me thought I was destined to live. For the first time since the age of eleven I am off parole, off probation, I have a passport and can leave the country if I want to, I make good money every week, I am a partner in a thriving company in Irvine, I am in the best shape of my life (In 2015 I took Gold at the American Nationals Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Championship for my division, Bronze at the World’s Championship in Las Vegas, and Silver at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam). I have a nice automobile, a beautiful girlfriend with whom I live in Huntington Beach, and finally a real relationship with my family.
Why I do this
I recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and health. Now I get to give back: I work with a lot of guys and girls in recovery, however I want to go further than this. In 1998 in Tehachapi State Prison, a vision was born. This year that vision finally developed into this very real project: Unlocked for Life. Our goal is to break the cycle of recidivism that slows social reform and unlock the barriers that everyday people, businesses, and others can’t seem to overcome.
I remember the weight on my shoulders whenever I got out – it was hard to fit back into society and handle the pressures of returning to a “normal life”. Before I knew it, I would turn to old habits “just for a short while, until I get back on my feet” and without fail I would end up back in handcuffs, sooner or later. Sadly, I know too many others who do the same. I want to change that.
With Unlocked for Life, our jail rehabilitation program, I will share the processes and methods I used to turn my life around, and help others like me break the habit of returning to jail. I intend to set up a facility in Orange County from which our members will have access to computers, job search assistance, and a full series of coaching and support systems. I am currently writing a book that will tell my story in an inspirational and instructive way so I can help others find how to unlock their life just as I have done. I use PATH as an acronym for Personal Awareness Training Helps. I’m living proof it works. If you do the work.
I feel free now: free from poverty, free from isolation, free from restriction, free from stigma, free from addiction. My sincere hope is that Unlocked for Life will help countless others reach that same freedom – permanently.