The Free Press, Mankato, MN

No Direction Home

December 22, 2013

No Direction Home, Day 3: From prison cell to college campus

She credits the Welcome Inn with helping her climb out of despair


She continued selling meth. And in December 2010, she was arrested again. This time meant prison. And that's where she turned things around.

Prison is where she found the so-called "boot camp" program, or what the Minnesota Department of Corrections calls the Challenge Incarceration Program. She applied right away. Two months later, she was accepted.

Through hard work via community service and intensive supervision regarding chemical dependency or other issues, a change happened for Herz.

"I had a lot of alone time," she said. "I started reflecting a lot. And I knew that being a junkie was not the way I wanted to go down. I couldn't see my kids. Couldn't see my dad. And my dad's the one who always held me together."

Her dad picked her up after she graduated from the Challenge Incarceration Program. They drove back to Mankato and he dropped her off at the Welcome Inn.

At first she was hesitant. She didn't want to live in a homeless shelter. But she had nowhere to go.

It didn't take her long to make friends.

"I met a woman with several kids, she'd always make me eat tuna sandwiches," Herz said. "The people there would ask me things about my life, about my girls.

"Two months. It was probably the best two months of me being out. I had a lot of fears about leaving. And I felt really safe (at the Welcome Inn)," Herz said. "I spent hours and hours and hours staying up and talking with (this woman I met), talking about our lives. It makes me really grateful. If I hadn't went to prison, I would never have met her. I wouldn't have gotten my girls back. Would never have gone back to school and on my way to getting my master's degree."

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No Direction Home