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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.

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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."

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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