March 28, 2023

Sentenced to prison, not a life of bad health

Reentering society after serving time can land people in unhealthy situations. With the help of recent grant funding, one organization is making a difference.

Waleisah Wilson, client services advocate with the Southern Center for Human Rights, supports people as they take their first steps after prison.

The very first hurdle is often simply finding a way to get home.

After serving time in prison, reentering regular life can be challenging. People may also need to figure out housing, getting a job, and getting a driver’s license.

Waleisah Wilson knows what it’s like. She became homeless after serving time.

Now, Wilson supports other people as they take their first steps after prison. She does this through her work as the client services advocate with the Southern Center for Human Rights, based in Atlanta.

“The greatest reward is seeing how 100% of our clients defy what society expects from them after they get out of incarceration by succeeding in building a new life for themselves,” Wilson said.

Wilson helps people navigate a changed world after long prison sentences.

“Through the Southern Center for Human Rights’ reentry program, our clients are able to get jobs, get IDs, get housing, and get the mental health resources and health care they need,” Wilson continued. “We are able to empower and support people in ways that allow them to participate in their communities and contribute to them in positive ways.”

The reentry program is just one way the Southern Center for Human Rights helps people. The center also provides free legal services to people who can’t afford it, and representation for minors and people on death row.

The greatest reward is seeing how 100% of our clients defy what society expects from them.


Breaking cycles of trauma that impact health

The Southern Center for Human Rights recently received financial support for its programs through Kaiser Permanente’s fund at the East Bay Community Foundation. The grant was part of a $25 million commitment, announced in 2020, to promote health equity among our members, communities, employees, and physicians.

Our regional grantees are supported in this health equity initiative by PolicyLink, Kaiser Permanente’s national partner. Through this partnership, grantees in Kaiser Permanente markets receive guidance and technical assistance to design and advance anti-racist projects and practices, and create policies that foster healthier communities.

Our latest series of health equity grants provided $2.86 million to 27 organizations, including the Southern Center for Human Rights. In different ways, each of these organizations works to end the cycles of trauma and stress, driven by racism, that lead to poor health.

“It’s moving to see how the health care community is thinking about safety and health — beyond mental and physical health,” said Terrica Ganzy, executive director for the Southern Center for Human Rights. “I feel heartened by this partnership and by working together to build communities where everyone can thrive.”

“Kaiser Permanente is committed to eliminating the barriers to good health that result from racism. By supporting community-based organizations that work for racial equity, we help disrupt systemic racism and create conditions for a healthier life for everyone,” said Stephanie Ledesma, vice president of community health programs for Kaiser Permanente.

Other recent community health grants

Our investments in advancing racial equity are part of our work to improve the health of our communities.

In 2022, our members and communities faced many challenges — heightened inflation, skyrocketing cost of living, and surges in COVID-19, to name a few. Our 2022 community investments promoted total health.

Learn more about our ongoing commitment to community health and the range of programs that serve our communities.