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“He who opens a school door, closes a prison door”
DENISE, born and raised on Chicago’s west side, is the eldest of seven children. At the age of twelve, her mother introduced her to shooting heroin. This lasted for over fifteen years. Her life during this time was a child living in an adult world. She dropped out of school in the fourth grade. She embraced the street life of drugs, prostitution, and crime. Her life was filled with poverty, incest, molestation, drug addiction, and incarceration. In the words of Denise, “Deep insecurity and inferiority, drug addiction, gender confusion tormented me for many years. I often wondered if I was human.”
DENISE grabbed hold to a seed of hope in spite of the life she had created for herself. Many had given up on her. Messages were sent time and time again by Judges, Public Defenders, Correction Officers, and Probation Officers as she went in and out of jail. Even family members and friends who were now sober tried to intervene. But she would not listen to them. Being at the right place at the right time, she heard the deliverance testimony of a recovering addict. The woman was telling the story Denise had been living. She received that message and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as her personal Savior in 1986. Through Christ, the very course of her life was altered. She accepted her calling as a Deliverance Minister in God’s True Holiness. Her belief system and faith are based on the doctrine of The Lord Jesus Christ. However, she respects the rights of individuals to choose their own beliefs just as she was allowed to do. Her walk of faith has not been easy. But she stayed on her journey. For the past 26 years, she has been clean and sober and full of inner peace with her past. She lives by II Corinthians 5:17(KJV)”Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are new.”
DENISE had vowed never to return to school after dropping out in the fourth grade. But, she changed that vow after seeing what education had in the lives of her peers. Education had truly transformed them and allowed them to have a better life. So, she enrolled in Olive Harvey College and received her GED in 1993. Next, she enrolled at National-Louis University in 2005 and received her B.S. in Behavioral Sciences in 2007. Then, she continued her studies; she received her graduate degree from in Spertus College in Nonprofit Management with a specialization in Human Services Administration in 2009.
DENISE also discovered that she had a love and passion to put people to work. Thus, Turbine Janitorial Cleaning Company was borne and opened in 1999. She ran this successful business for 3 years. She closed her business because she knew her calling was in social services and court advocacy. Therefore, she changed careers and became a Certified Substance Abuse and HIV counselor.
DENISE realized that the business model she had could also be a vehicle to help ex-offenders get educated and employed in the janitorial cleaning arena. Therefore, she founded “Tender Touch NFP” in 2004. This 501c3 organization educates and provides a viable career track for ex-offenders who are being released from prison or jail. It is more than a re-entry program; it is a program that offers life skills for ex-offenders to remain drug-free and crime free along with training them in the careers of not only janitorial cleaning but also crime scene clean-up. Denise’s motto for her agency is “hands that once committed crimes now restore their communities”.
DENISE is a Deliverance Minister, Inspirational, and Motivational Speaker; she has been on a passionate mission to share with others how to break free from the prison within. Denise knows that the “greatest prison is the one that we erect for ourselves.” Her mission is to educate, inspire and empower individuals to achieve their greatness regardless of their race, color, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs. Denise found her purpose in her empowerment ministry that includes a prison ministry addressing the needs of women and young girls. This ministry has allowed her to provide volunteer services to various organizations throughout the Chicago land area, as well as other states.
DENISE has worked with adults, families and children for over 20 years in building healthy relationships. Churches, parents, schools, government institutions and businesses have heard and utilized her lectures on “Roadmaps for Ex-Offenders to Return to Their Communities.” She is the author of Who Said It Couldn’t Be Done; she’s working on her 2nd book, The Prison Within Me “Break Free”. Her book Who Said It Couldn’t Be Done has been the catalyst, subject matter, and curriculum for a 16-Week, 80-Hour Life Skills Course called “Changing Your Lifestyle” that has been used by the Empowerment Center of the Department of Women’s Justice Services within the Cook County Sheriff’s Department. She has also been asked to develop Who Said It Couldn’t Be Done into a play by a local Chicago Theater. Her life has inspired others.