Ben’s Story

As you support organizations this giving season, we hope that you will keep GOSO in mind. It is because of people like you that GOSO can sustain our critical work to provide services to our participants like Ben. Please take a few minutes to read his story and make a donation to GOSO as we prepare for 2021.

Ben’s Story

“Incarceration tears families apart. People I knew would come back from prison and they were looked at differently. It was hard for them to do things like get a job or housing. I have friends who are incarcerated, and I just feel like they’re taken from us by this unjust system.” In 2016, at age 16, Ben was personally impacted by the justice system when he was arrested for the first time and felt overwhelmed by a system built to take advantage of people living in poverty. Even with a support system including his mother and two sisters, he struggled navigating the complex court system and the systemic barriers he faced as a person of color. While growing up in East Harlem he saw how his community was over-policed and how he and his neighbors were unfairly targeted by law enforcement because of the color of their skin.

A throwback of Ben studying in his dorm room freshman year of school!

Ben turned to GOSO for guidance and services after facing several arrests. He got an internship through our GOSOWorks employment program and met regularly with his GOSO Career Manager, Julia, who provided mental health support. Julia wrote appeal letters on his behalf to ensure that the court knew about his success in our program, his goals for the future, and advocated for why he should remain in the community. In partnership with GOSO, Ben has been able to completely avoid incarceration, allowing him the freedom to pursue and achieve his goals.

Ben had always had his sights set on college and through his hard work, this goal became a reality. He is currently a junior at SUNY Albany, studying Sociology and planning for a career in social work post-graduation. GOSO has stood by him throughout his time in school — securing support for his tuition, helping him obtain essential school supplies like textbooks, dorm bedding, and more. “Having help from GOSO relieved a lot of stress. I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to pay for certain things, so I was able to just focus on doing well in my classes.” College has led to immense personal growth for Ben and he has discovered a passion for helping others, with hopes of working in a place like GOSO one day. “I feel like I can relate to a lot of people who are in need of resources, because I have been there before. I would love to work somewhere like GOSO to help people in the same way they’ve helped me.”

Our goal at GOSO is to have more success stories like this as we enter into 2021 — please give today and invest in Justice Transformation.