Treasures In Prison Cells
Leticia Chavez Paulette
Coming from a poor family’s background, surviving many “bad choices” concerning drugs and other illegal activities, Leticia found a relationship with God that allowed her to turn her life around and offer herself to the aid of others. Her ministry, A Peaceful Habitation Home & Aftercare Ministry, Inc., is now offering a light of hope to women coming out of prison, hope that she herself needed, to be able to overcome the realities of post-prison life.
As a child, Leticia was one of 8 brothers/sisters coming from a poor Southern New Mexico family. Many of her first memories were picking onions and other vegetables as a family during the summer and early fall to make ends meet. Even though hard, the memories of her early years were good. One of her memories also was of a friend’s birthday party that showed her cohesive family and relative wealth compared to her family condition. This type of image gave her a drive to succeed in life, which she did even though she had only a GED for education, after quitting high school in her last year of school. She did attend a business college and became a legal assistant, married and had what she considered “the good life”. That good life, however, turned to drugs and alcohol. The good life turned to bad as the drugs overwhelmed her. Eventually, the addiction shattered the marriage and eventually her life.
Arrested and convicted, Leticia was sent to jail and then prison. But prison was where she discovered and developed a wonderful relationship with Jesus Christ. Through her four years in prison, she turned a disaster into the most wonderful relationship with God that could ever be imagined. She attributes her prison sentence to not only saving her life, but also cementing her relationship with Jesus Christ. That drive that made her early life successful was the determination that helped her develop an exit strategy from prison, as well as overcoming the overwhelming obstacles of post-prison life.
During and since her release Leticia has continually dedicated her life to helping others overcome the hurdles of prison release. Based on her experiences leaving prison, she founded God’s Provision Ministry and later with a co-founder, Donna Jennings, A Peaceful Habitation Home & Aftercare Ministry, Inc., a ministry that provides transitional housing, resources, life skills, Celebrate Recovery and other assistance to women leaving prison. The home was a miracle from God. The application for the 501(c)(3) was submitted half handwritten and the other half typed and was approved in less than a month. The lease was signed on the house September 4, 2006 and was completely furnished by September 22, 2006. Every bit of furniture was donated or bought brand new and donated to the home. The program was also approved by the NM Dept. of Corrections September 20, 2006. What a mighty God we serve!
This dedication to God has provided the springboard from which she has given her positive testimony to thousands of people at national conferences of Celebrate Recovery and Transition of Prisoners, and several church groups throughout the country. Her work with Celebrate Recovery has continued from inside the walls of prison to becoming a coordinator of the Crossings Unit for a short time and facilitator of Celebrate Recovery program at the NM Women’s Correctional Facility. Her work has also aided in her conference/meeting with President G.W. Bush and the President then using her as a positive example of success in his speech at the 2004 Faith-Based Initiatives Conference in Los Angeles. He quoted the scripture she used from Esther: 4:14 "For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
Leticia had lost her parental rights to her son, Isaac, but God restored him to her. He is legally adopted by her sister, Ramona, but visits on a regular basis and at the age of 6 said, “He wanted to “rock” for God!” He is now 11 and serving God. Leticia is also re-married. She and Bob met on a Kairos prison ministry weekend in 2003 while she was still on parole. They married six months later and are still married and very much in love. She and her husband, Bob, continues working on four Kairos weekends each year. She was also made Leader of a women’s Kairos team. Praise the Lord. God has brought her a long way and performed many miracles in her ministry.