A New Life: Returning Home After 20 Years at Gadsden Correctional Facility

After serving 20 years, on February 20, 2015, Robyn Kraholik was released from prison, leaving MTC’s Gadsden Correctional Facility in Quincy, Florida.  Robyn’s release thrust her into a changed world.  She had never logged on Facebook or sent a text.

“It was just completely different to me, the whole thing,” she says.  “The whole world was different.  Cars looked different, prices of things were astronomical, nobody uses cash anymore, everybody uses cards, they use phones, families don’t sit and talk with each other at restaurants, everybody has a phone or a tablet in front of them.”

Robyn’s journey to who she is today has many steps along the way.  Her time at the Gadsden Correctional Facility had a huge impact on her.  She explains:

“I really enjoyed being at Gadsden, and the staff was just wonderful.  They have a lot of programs that they offer, and it is very helpful for someone who has not been in society.  It is probably one of the best prisons that I was at, if you could say that.  And I say that because there was so much more there to offer.”

When Robyn left Gadsden that February morning in 2015, she walked into the arms of a group of people from an organization called Hope House which is affiliated with the Calvary Baptist Church over 300 miles away in Clearwater.  Hope House provides a home and extensive, day-to-day transitional support to women accepted into their program.

“Going to Hope House was a great opportunity for me,” says Robyn.  “They’re amazing people.  I was able to have somebody guiding me into the world because it’s so different from what it was when I was in it before.  I met a whole bunch of wonderful women.  They taught me how to do everything that I didn’t know how to do.  I had to learn how to do bank accounts, savings accounts, paying bills, going to the doctor, stuff like that.”

Colleen Anderson, of Calvary’s Mission Department, explains the vision of Hope House.

“We rely on the community immensely to help these women succeed, and give them opportunities that you would never get if you come out on your own.  Hope House is just a tool for women.  It’s a stepping stone into the real world.  And that regardless of what’s happened in your past, you have a choice of turning that life around.”

Soon after her release, through the community partnerships provided by Hope House, Robyn was able to land a job at Karl Flammer Ford.

“It’s turned out to be amazing,” Robyn says of her employment.  “I moved up to becoming a service advisor, and I’m Master Certified now as a service advisor.”

Jeremy Bauer is a co-worker.  “I couldn’t ask for a better partner to work with,” he says.  “(She’s) a sweetheart.  An absolute pleasure to work with.  She’s consistent with everybody.”

“It is a pleasure to work with Robyn,” agrees Robin Libengood, another co-worker.  “She is always so bubbly and full of sunshine.  She’s a hard worker, she’s a hustler-definitely.”

Colleen Anderson reflects on her experience with Robyn.  “(She) taught me to not judge others.  To not look down on others.  She taught me to look past that and to see the better of a person who’s been in a situation like that.”

Robyn sums up how she feels about her life now.

“I think I’m in a good place.  I’m doing good, I’m in a relationship.  My job is great, my church is awesome, and I just think that I’m going to continue to grow.  I don’t see that there’s any limits.  I know who I am, and I will allow people to see that person and not the person of my past.”

About Gadsden Correctional Facility

Gadsden Correctional Facility is accredited by the American Correctional Association—
achieving 100% compliance for both mandatory and non-mandatory standards in
its most recent audit. Other accreditations and certifications include the Correctional
Education Association and the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).