Changing lives by changing minds: "We do not have to be victims of our own stories...but interestingly enough stories are a way out [of our suffering]. We hold the power to change our story."
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Sammy Rangel is the author of the autobiography FOURBEARS: The Myths of Forgiveness. This is not only a book about his life. It also goes in depth concerning the steps it takes to forgive, change, reconcile and recover from wounds many of us have.
Sammy is also the founder of Formers Anonymous (FA) (est:8/29/12): a self-help group based on the 12 step model for criminals and addicts addicted to street life looking for support and answers on how to change and recover. The program is now national with discussion to spread to Canada, Australia, UK, and Hungary. Formers Anonymous is currently in several correctional facilities throughout the state.
Mr. Rangel currently serve as Programs Director for the Re-Entry Division of Racine Vocational Ministry.
Sammy’s philosophy and professional responsibility is to meet clients where they are in the process of change, take them as they are, and prepare them for a prosocial reunification with the most important parts of their community. Previously Sammy was the Program Coordinator for the SAFE Streets Outreach Program for 16 years, working with youth, adults and families who face extreme crisis or danger for 18 years.
Often times the population is involved in gang, drug, and criminal activities that place them in very high risk for incarceration, addiction or worse. Sammy have reached tens of thousands of youth, adults, families, and professionals across the nation over the last 18 years. Many of the participants experience abuse, abandonment, homelessness, and engage in survival behavior such as sex in exchange for food and shelter as well criminal activity.
Google Ideas, in association with the Council on Foreign Relations and Tribeca Film Festival invited Sammy and a partner program Life After Hate (LAH) to participate in the Summit Against Violent Extremism in Dublin, Ireland June 26 through June 29, 2011. Life After Hate Inc., was created in 2009 by reformed former influential members of the radicalized American right-wing movement. The summit convened over 80 former members of violent, exploitative organizations, from inner-city gangs to right-wing militants to religious extremist groups, all of whom, including Sammy are now actively and publicly working towards helping youth and adults find positive alternatives to violent extremism. As a direct result of the summit LAH, Sammy as a board member of LAH and the founder of FA launched EXIT USA in 2015. EXIT USA is a program to help people leave far right extremist movements and help them begin the process of disengagement and de-radicalization.
The pinnacle of Mr. Rangel’s career is his participation in the TEDxDanubia Conference: Balance On the Edge held in Budapest on May 21, 2015 titled The Power of Forgiveness.
Recent requests for Sammy to speak are: the Northwestern Law School's Black Law Students Association panel for Collaboraction's play Crime Scene Chicago 2015: Let Hope Rise January 21, 2015. His life story and work are highlighted in this play to create social dialogue and action for inspiring peace.
He continues to provide lead practice presentations through the Anti-Gang and Violence Prevention Summit September 2014 through plenary panels and 4 workshops. And of course he has presented at the Wisconsin Association for Homeless & Runaway Systems Americorp Trainer October 2015 and many preceeding years. He scgheduled to present at the 2016 conference again.
Sammy has furthered his credibility by overcoming the grips of addiction, and recovering from a street life of Chicago area gangs, violence and prison. It is worthy of note to mention that he has accomplished all the aforementioned since being released from the Department of Corrections November 11, 1999, after serving more than 15 ½ years through out his juvenile and adult years. He lived out the majority of my preadolescent years as a victim of daily and ongoing childhood physical and sexual abuse. At the age of 11, Sammy set out on his own and lived out the rest of his juvenile life as homeless, throwaway child who very quickly encountered drugs, crime, sex, and violence on the street, just like at home. Eventually, he made a lifestyle of the street life including gangs, crime, drugs, and institutions.
Today he considers his most crucial role in the community being a father, as well as helping as many people as he can. As someone once so aptly stated about Sammy… “The scary thing about Sammy is that despite all that he has accomplished in a very short period of time…He’s just getting started.”
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