Getting out of prison isn’t easy. There’s parole and probation to navigate, child custody issues, securing housing, finding a job, and avoiding the temptation to fall back into criminal habits. That’s what drew Turning Leaf Project founder Amy Barch to reentry work—despite her middle-class upbringing, she understood why the less privileged would take whatever they could get in a world stacked against them. “They haven’t been given much, so I kind of got why they broke rules and made bad decisions,” she explains.
Since earning her degree in law, societies, and justice from the University of Washington (Seattle), Barch intended to help people. After moving to Charleston in 2010, she struggled to find a reentry volunteer opportunity that she fully believed in. So she took a leap of faith, quit her job, and started Turning Leaf in 2011, with the support of then-police chief Greg Mullen and then-mayor Joe Riley.