After 20 years in and out of prison, a guard told her she’d be back. She proved him wrong.
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Starbucks Upstanders

When her 5-year-old son was killed, Susan Burton lost her way.

He was playing outside and ran into the street, where a car hit him. In the blink of an eye, Susan's life as she knew it was over.

She unraveled, and his death led her down a dark spiral. Susan turned to drugs and alcohol to medicate her grief, which resulted in a number of arrests. The life she’d envisioned and worked toward had ended abruptly, and she began a cycle of being in and out of prison over 20 years.


Watch Susan's story:

A New Way of Life gives formerly incarcerated women the support they need to change their lives for the better. A Starbucks original series.

Posted by Upworthy on Tuesday, September 13, 2016

When Susan was released from prison for the last time, the guard said, "You’ll be back. We’ll have a bed waiting for you."

Susan vowed that wouldn't be the case. But she knew firsthand how hard it can be to reenter society after incarceration.

The reality is that the prison system in America is deeply flawed. The majority of prisoners who leave jail wind up behind bars again within a few years after their release. According to a 2014 report by the U.S. Department of Justice, "67.8% of the the 404,638 state prisoners released in 2005 in 30 states were arrested within 3 years of release, and 76.6% were arrested within 5 years of release." Things in 2016 aren’t much different.

All images via Starbucks, used with permission.

It took years, but with the help of her community, Susan was finally able to break her cycle.

Susan had tried repeatedly to get back on track, but because of her record, she couldn’t find a job or treatment programs for her addictions. When she finally found support within her community, Susan became sober, found a steady job, and, most importantly, began to heal.

She wasn’t content just to keep herself out of jail; she wanted to help others, too. "I knew hundreds of women that just needed a few months of support to just be able to stand on their feet and not return to prison," she said.

Susan worked hard, saved her money, and purchased a house. She then turned her new house into a reentry home.

What started as an individual effort quickly grew. A New Way of Life Reentry Project was born.

Today, she’s helped over 1,000 women to get a new lease on life.

Because no matter how they wound up in prison, so many of their stories are the same. These are women who grew up with big dreams like so many of us do but who wandered down the wrong path and couldn’t find their way back around.

A New Way of Life offers them a supportive community where they can face their biggest fears associated with reentry and tackle the systemic barriers that stand in their way. Because it isn’t easy to get a job when you’ve been incarcerated. And it’s not easy to qualify for student loans to return to school. Finding a permanent home is another huge hurdle, and there are so many more. The best way for these women to face those challenges without feeling hopeless and overwhelmed is together.

A New Way of Life is tackling America’s incarceration crisis head-on, and the work it's doing is undeniable.

Last year, the project had a recidivism rate of 13%. Compared to the national average, that’s a huge success rate and a strong indication that what they're doing is working.

Susan said, "It’s a vicious cycle to return to the environment that led to your incarceration, and it happens over and over again. That is the cycle that I’m trying to break. That is the cycle that we must break."

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.