Welcome to Instilling Change: A Second Chance series! Each month, we will feature a program participant and their personal success stories post-incarceration. This month, we are featuring Second Chance graduate, Katrena McKinnies! In January, we featured Fred Martin, another graduate of our program. -- To Katrena McKinnies, a positive mentality is one of the most important components for leading a successful life. Her kindness, work ethic, and selflessness has helped shape her lifestyle before and after incarceration.
Incarcerated two days before her birthday, Katrena found herself in an unusual position. As a former employee of the Missouri Department of Corrections, she had to adjust to the lifestyle of her former clients. In an interview, Katrena explained that she was “on the other end” of the law in comparison to what she was used to. Although the transition into incarceration was difficult, Katrena met a lot of unique, friendly people on the inside. She spent a lot of her time studying the Bible with people of many different religions. “I found out that all of us believe the same thing,” Katrena explained. This time spent studying and ministering taught her to not judge people because of their past, and helped her further appreciate the important things in her life. According to Katrena, “I wouldn’t be in the house that I’m in, I wouldn’t have the job that I have now, I would’ve never met those people at my job.”
Since returning to the Kansas City community, Katrena is most proud of her ability to maintain her positive attitude and stability for her and her family. Katrena credits a lot of her successes to her personal mindset. “If you think bad thoughts about yourself, that’s the way everything is going to be,” Katrena said. Change is also important to Katrena, stating that “you have to think better of yourself. If I want better, I have to think better and do better.” She was able to find employment and obtain a home to live in, something many justice-involved individuals struggle with.
Katrena also gives much credit to the Second Chance program. When asked about how the program has helped her success, she stated that “having someone to talk to [at Second Chance] has been a weight off of my shoulders.” Katrena joined the program in 2015 and has successfully graduated, obtaining assistance for employment and housing. Through the program, some of her housing costs were alleviated through rent assistance. Aside from Second Chance, she gives credit to other community organizations, including City Union Mission, St. James Place, and Community LINC for helping her during times of adversity. Katrena has been able to use her resources to help other members of the community find what they need as well, something that her hometown of Earl, Arkansas wasn’t able to offer.
Katrena is still living in the Kansas City community with her children, working at The Results Companies. She is still involved with Second Chance, occasionally stopping by to visit with the staff. Originally from small town Arkansas, Katrena couldn’t be happier living here in Kansas City. “I couldn’t stay away all of those times I left”, Katrena said. You will most likely find her enjoying a Chiefs game during football season or enjoying all of the statues and fountains at Crown Center with her children, who have been nothing but supportive of her.
Second Chance is a program of the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission. If you have any further questions, please contact us at 816-231-0450, or visit our website at www.kc-crime.org.