Robert Sanchez is a social worker who helps people coming out of prison find work and get the support they need. He has a unique understanding of his clients’ struggles because in 2001, Robert was released from New York’s Sing Sing Correctional Facility after serving 15 years for a nonviolent drug offense.
Robert has also recorded StoryCorps interviews with those who have helped him over the years. In March 2010, his conversation with Felix Aponte was broadcast on NPR. More recently, he sat down with Fred Davie, a long-time mentor and friend, to thank him for the spiritual support he has provided.
A Presbyterian minister who heads the Union Theological Seminary, Fred met Robert in 1998 when he was visiting Sing Sing and Robert was working towards his master’s degree in Theology. They struck up a conversation and made an instant connection, and after Robert’s release, Fred helped him navigate the difficult process of navigating work, interpersonal relationships, and fatherhood.
Both men have remained outspoken about the importance of providing guidance and support to individuals following their incarceration, and together they developed the Ready4Work reentry program, which provides mentoring and job counseling to former prisoners to help with their transition and avoid reincarceration.
At StoryCorps, Robert and Fred remember their first meeting, and discuss how their relationship has grown since.
Robert and Fred’s conversation was recorded through the StoryCorps Justice Project, which preserves and amplifies the stories of people who have been directly impacted by mass incarceration. The Justice Project is made possible, in part, with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge, #RethinkJails and the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation.
Originally aired December 2, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.