Katy Kelly and Ezra Kelly
DescriptionEzra Kelly (22) talks to his sister Katy Kelly (33) about childhood, their parents, family, and Katy's journey through life as a parent. They also discuss the influences that led to her business, the development of her mobile application, and the power of The Fledge on both their lives.
- Katy Kelly
- Ezra Kelly
Recording LocationThe Fledge
Venue / Recording Kit
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00:02 I'm Katy Kelly. I'm 33 years old today is November 13th 2019 and I am at the fledge in Lansing Michigan and I am your big sister and I'm 22 years old. It is November 13th 2019. I'm at the fledge with my big sister Katie.
00:33 View my face is Ted Kennedy.
00:43 I don't know how to like slick should I start differently than just a question or should I serve equation?
00:48 Okay, so
00:54 Like I guess this is kind of actually I chose this one because I I I just kind of want to know.
01:02 You are like, what were you like like when you were a kid like cuz I act like I was like like before you were born. Yeah when you were like 10 and under
01:15 If I don't I don't like remember myself that well as a kid, but I do remember I mean like I loved playing with dolls like even till I was like a little bit like two old like might would like most kids my age are playing with us. So maybe like 10 or 11 or 12 hours still playing with dolls of specially American girls like me and Lauren Campbell used to play in the basement with our American girls, and I don't know I was like kind of girly but
01:50 Also like to be outside and have fun but I always was like Amish like I always was like, even when I was little trying to take care of someone's baby or pretend that I was the mom or something like that.
02:05 That's so that's interesting. You're always like it seems like you always were because you would watch me and MK lot but like you seem so much older then me to me like it's so weird and it seems like 10 years. Isn't that long?
02:21 Yeah, like I watched like the greens kids in Jackson and stuff before you guys were even born. So I just like always was doing that. That's like all I ever wanted to do was be a mom.
02:33 That's cool. I'm glad you did that.
02:45 What were your parents like?
02:48 So like in my perspective and Dad.
02:56 I don't mean mama really close until I was like about maybe around 10 or maybe a little bit younger and we did like everything together. We were like matching clothes and went on bike rides and super weird stuff. No, but like I mean, I don't know her family was just I guess like the typical middle-class family like when it was me RJ mom and dad before you guys were born.
03:26 We went to vacations. We went to the park. We went to the country club you want to you know, the pool like all together.
03:33 Yeah, I'll get the hell. Yeah and like all together all of us together.
03:38 But my my relationship is always close to her dad. We just got along better and he was when he was just always liked understanding and compassionate. I'll also always you know, like crazy got mad super fast.
03:56 But Mom.
03:59 Just doesn't like when you become your own person she wants you to be who she wants you to be. So that's where we butted heads and just because I was a teenage girl and she was my mom but we're just a lot different. She was a lot different views on life and it's way more close-minded than me. So she really never got me. I felt like but she just has her way of I don't know if she's
04:22 Super naive I guess I don't know. It is a Leo like their way.
04:31 Is it really really interesting for me to hear any of like your side that would never think about it in like certain ways. It's interesting though. I had asked you I'm your favorite relatives who are so weird because like after Grandma Kelly died. Like we never liked juventud like anything together. Then we were never quit like all my friends are close with her cousins were not but I guess my favorite relatives in the extended family.
05:10 Would have been Grandma Kelly.
05:17 And every night when I was younger, I thought mariangela was cool. And I always liked her but we didn't see her very often. I thought that a lot of mom and dad's friends were more like family than our actual family was in our inner family. Obviously you and MK my my favorites
05:42 Mom put
05:45 B&M care about her family a lot more
05:50 Like she she was like maybe like she was a try to when we were like younger though, but then like once we came out and tried to become our own people, you know what I mean?
06:03 How has being a parent change you?
06:08 Like I wanted to ask that because I think it's important to know like a wolf whistle. You've been apparent interior 19 and I think that because of what you do like like what you do is work and stuff now, I think it's like I just think it's going to be interesting to understand that.
06:33 So you're having Sky when I was 19.
06:38 Totally change my life. I mean I was a spoiled brat grew up in Haslet and you know it like I mean I had no idea of the real world I guess and I'm super I cared about materialistic things and when I got pregnant and mom and dad didn't want me to have the baby and they sent me to pregnancy school and then I kind of had to figure out life on my own after not knowing anything about life. It just opened my eyes to a different world and I guess I never I knew other people struggled and there was issues in the world, but I never really knew because we never saw and it was never talked about her household. And so that's when you know, I started Living in Lansing and learning anything about life and I just knew that like the way we grew up at and like the way I remember Mom and Dad and like their friends talking and talking about other people like actually just started today.
07:37 Cast me cuz they were so close-minded and didn't have any care for anyone else and that I guess becoming a parent.
07:47 In a way made me have a lot it made me realize that there were things to have compassion about really compassionate for people and the struggles that people go through.
08:02 That's real but I think I always knew that I wanted to help people even before that, but I didn't realize even what was going on in the world.
08:14 It's so crazy.
08:26 Sand processing what you said?
08:29 It's so weird to like think that like cuz I was like eight or nine. I think I was able to gather was born. And so when you went freaking school, I was like seven or eight that's so weird to think that I was like storms age. Like that's so weird. But like I would have never thought that was like I thought that was you were like you wanted to let you know. I mean like a silly anything happening to like that age like someone that's like seven or eight like they just think like a cool, you know like to go do something that I don't know if I like the idea was going to be a good experience.
09:08 They're actually sending me to a place with conveyor. I mean with people with straight out of girls are pregnant right out of prison and with drug problems and I was literally an 18 year old from Hazlet that got pregnant by her like a football star boyfriend never done anything like kind of like the guy taking really like your Matic, you know, like like I really can't even imagine what it would be like to be there. I remember when you came home. No telling me your dreams. I remember talking on the phone like just not very long after you got there. I'm going to come home soon. And I remember distinctly do and I was like, yeah cuz if not, I don't think I would be as good of a person as I am.
10:00 I feel that.
10:02 What are your dreams for your children?
10:06 I just want them to be able.
10:09 To be themselves and
10:13 Be comfortable with that and
10:16 Do what like start off doing what they wanted want to do not doing something that they think is going to make some money because that's what they're supposed to do. Like I want them to do what makes them happy. I want to them to always pursue their passion and their purpose.
10:37 Powerful to email passionate power. I mean, I think that's why I want I want that for them like it just because so many people told me all that stupid. You won't make any money doing that. Oh don't do that. You need to do know not what time in passion but just like in general like what things I wanted to do. Was that like that's why it took me so long to even get you to do what I'm doing now.
11:03 I feel you. It's like
11:07 It's weird kids like
11:11 I don't ever remember.
11:14 I don't remember like me and MK knowing.
11:20 Really wanting to do anything besides music but Mom and Dad would be like what what do you really want to be mean? Like did you get that? I mean, I feel like I didn't even ever know what I wanted to be except to be a mom because anything that I ever said or like brought up that I wanted to be like why I want to help people. So maybe I want to be a social worker or therapist or a teacher and like literally anything that I ever said that I wanted to be. I just got some sort of negative response.
11:49 Not like no like support in like here's how you get to that. It's just like how you're not going to make any money. You should do something else but they never had they never had like an alternative solution. I feel ya and I know I can think your back watching from the outside of your life. It's like kind of I can see that cuz I always like I remember like every time you get into something you're like all in, you know, and I feel like me and you are more that way than I even like I can think it's like I can't even connect them being that way like when you're in something you're like,
12:25 Play quiet. I thought we don't blink you were there and I feel the same like it's like the worst. I feel like when you like are working so hard to convince someone like then it feels like the negativity to zidane, you know, but then like once you stop doing it, then like it's like the worst to feel yourself, you know any means but then like something cuz I'm retarded get going and even with support. So it's like amazing that you can do that. Thank you.
12:52 Tell me Lake. So tell me how you like that into your line of work and
13:00 Like what lessons your work is like taught you since or like if you could maybe you learned lessons to get you into the line, I guess.
13:11 Tell me about what kind of passion is here. So.
13:18 I just I guess the whole experience with country going to prison and
13:29 Really more so when he got out of prison like everything that we had to go through that I just thought was so asinine like made no sense. Like they were there parole officers supposed to be helping him transition and it they're making it harder like when they two days before he came home and they told him you and Katie have a no contact so you can't go home to the house that you thought you were going home to that you I mean, it's not just that you thought you were going home to that. I spent his last money that he left getting into that house outside of the neighborhood that he was in where he caught his charged and
14:13 Like also his whole re-entry plan and all of his classes that he took while he was in prison were based on him coming home to his family like you took parenting classes and family classes and and all of these things in his whole plan was to come home and I was his point of contact in his house or his point of contact the whole time and then two days before that they ripped that off from him.
14:39 And so his like basically all the work that you did in prison was for nothing cuz they set him up to fail because they were like, okay. Well actually you're not doing any of that. We're going to put you in a halfway house on the same exact street that you were just like that you got caught up and we're running on when then that's why you're here like they put him where he was selling drugs that they put him in a halfway house where he was selling drugs instead of putting him back with his family and I was eight and a half months pregnant and I told him he's going to be at the birth of our kids. So after that like just us like me trying to communicate with a parole officer, like what can we do to change it and just getting road block at the road. There's nothing you can do. It's a privilege that he's out on parole. He can go back to prison if he doesn't want to sign the conditions as writing letters asking, you know, can we take classes? Can we do this? Can we do that? What can we do to be together as a family?
15:35 Because family is one of the most important parts of reentry and him getting in trouble for us writing letters instead of them helping him and us and they're just I mean us even asking lawyers and they're literally being no no way to to say that the parole officer to prove that the parole officers doing something wrong cuz they won't even give you that chance. There's no, you know like Court procedure or anything to get that removed. He can a parole officer can basically just do whatever he wants because
16:06 From the MDOC perspective and from a legal perspective. It is a privilege that you are out of prison on parole because parole
16:18 Is for when you don't max out, so his sentence was 2 to 20 years they left if they let him and then he did boot camp. So he did 90 days. So we did about six months total. So then they let him out at his minimum. That means that they could keep him on parole for up to those 20 years.
16:36 Because that was his sentence he would have to do a hit the full 20 years in prison to not do parole. So just going through all of that really made me see how corrupt our criminal justice system is and I always knew it was corrupt, but it's kind of like one of those things you don't you know, but you have your own life going on and it sucks but who really cares cuz it's not affecting you or you don't think about it cuz it's not affecting you and you can't solve all the world's problems, but when it affects you that's when I was like I have to I have to do something about this like I just started researching and saw how it was affecting other people. I mean, my kids had to witness their dad go to jail for literally only for being around me.
17:26 On several occasions while he was on Parole
17:30 And there was no need for for the way that they did it. He had no, like he always showed up to the parole officer. So there was a prosecutor just called him in. Why wait until he has his baby right make her watch him be arrested.
17:47 And so I'm balling in the car and just to me it was it's you're not just punishing the person that did the crime. I just can't be you're traumatizing be like it like this like that's like the worst is cuz you don't know how that can affect their brain. Yeah, so that was my biggest thing. And so after his after they extended his parole 6 months when they found out that we were living together, and we weren't supposed to be
18:18 And we had nowhere to go or we could be around each other cuz no one cuz he is in public and we started coming back to the fledge cuz there's like a safe place for us to be together as a family that the police wouldn't wouldn't find us.
18:32 You know, I'm I just started being around Jerry and I was researching more about what we could do for him to get off parole and not be treated unfairly and I wanted to to start I thought nonprofit to help people help returning citizens, you know an advocate for parole reform how cuz that's where I really want to focus is on parole and probation reform. Yeah, and then Jerry was
19:02 Will the hatching came up I needed money. And I was like, let's do something we can't do power in passion cuz it's a nonprofit and has to be a for-profit. He's like, okay, but what do you really want to do? And I said power in passion and it was the last day to enter the hatching and
19:17 You got on the computer and filled it out and was like what we're doing it and I had nothing written down about the business. That was September 1st, September 25th. We
19:29 Pitchman Tire business idea that we now had written down we one couple days later. We met with the Michigan Department of Corrections.
19:39 In-N-Out a good meeting and then just kept on beating it just growing so fast I guess is my friend is just like crazier than I ever thought event. Jerry was like crazy and I like tell like Mom and Dad and stuff like all the time. I'm like you I'm like the biggest thing at the fledge and I'm like literally it is and it's the main focus because it's like expanding so fast and that's what happens like you can tell the lake where the biggest Lake Success is because of that kind of and it's just like so
20:14 It didn't seriously you should tell you how proud of myself and like I I've tried. I don't even know how to link express like it's just like well, you know, I mean, it's like it's amazing that makes my heart pound and that's what I can tell you. It's hard for me to tell you. Yeah. I just I can't even express to you because I I guess cuz no one really told us they were proud of us that much like I never felt like someone would ever be proud of me and like I just want you to know that I have that feeling for you. It's it's hard for me to express because like is insane like how to see just like with it. Like I told you all the time you're a single mom at 3, you know, like no one else has his opportunity anywhere else like I mean, maybe they do and maybe they do some crazy shit but like the the fledge made it possible and his crazy cuz we weren't talking and you and your family showed up here one day.
21:13 And it was like within like a week or two of that that I said something about how the fledge is becoming a nonprofit and you were like, oh did you know that that's what I want to do in like I just remembered that when you I forgot about that event in like it's just like that was only a few months ago that crazy you see if you made a mistake like really cemented for me. I mean, I think me and light power in passion and the fledge has like how do they think things like that are super aligned? Like we have our passions ultimate goal. Is that even though these returning citizens have made a mistake they are they have paid their due to Society for the for that mistake and
22:08 Like they're just everyone makes mistakes. Some of us get caught and went to prison for it and some of his didn't but I can almost guarantee that at least 99% of people have made at least one mistake in their life that they could have gone to prison for. So like we need to forgive these people that already done they've already done their time and they also deserve to pursue their happiness and pursue their passion and we need to be no make that make that available to them in that they're all to my goal. And I think that's why the fledge work so well cuz me and Jerry think like so much alike about people and what they deserve in and just like you have to like, yeah, I know but just like that's how I can work with
22:54 Like that kind of separately from Jerry but also like through Jerry Wiese. I can like see it more cuz it makes sense. I don't think that our relationship as when we started coming to the lake when I started being scared of the Ya-Ya like and I was always kind of been different to everyone so like Marshall at Kate's RJ, you know, I was always just like we all crazy
23:19 But now I feel like I'm the closest to you. Yeah, I know first. I do like the power and passion just really cemented that pursuing your what your purpose is in what you're passionate about no matter how hard it is. I mean, you know like while we were while I was doing the hatching while I was winning the hatching and everyone saying how successful I am.
23:46 Me and the kids are basically homeless for a sleeping couch to couch later in Mom's one-bedroom apartment and struggling more than I ever have and we've struggled but they're not like that but I was happy. I was going to say you were doing what you love. So like it's like one thing like I felt like someone could look at it like
24:10 In an I guess like I'm not trying to make it a negative thing. I don't think this way but I felt like someone could look at it and be like, oh like you should just be working a job, you know in like having a place for you and your kids but in the long run it would be so worth it for them to see you build them from there because like
24:27 I just believed in it so much that I knew like I just at that I was just at a point where when we came to the fledge at first like we started coming and then like we were going through a lot with his parole and everything and I was stressed out and I would I started coming to the fledge as like a place that made me calm that made my chest not heard them made me be able to breathe even then from there it grew to having enough confidence in my Iowa before I came here. I would never even have enough confidence to even think that I could start a business and then to start a business and it is all in a few months and then like, I mean a lot of people called me selfish a lot of people even I mean sometimes my family is mad at me because like, you know, like the kids and Country because I'm working too much but like I know this is the right thing to do and it's working like I should have like we got into housing. I should have never got into housing someone walked into the fledge a fledgling.
25:27 But now I was a millionaire walked into the fledge when I was trying to get the house in my case worker didn't come through with what he said. He could come through with and wrote Jerry a $5,000 check and Jerry literally walked up to me and said
25:41 Don't worry about that $1,000. You're good. You have your house like those things don't is in its not that's not the only thing there's so many things that just fell into place when I started doing the right thing and doing what I wanted to do. Well, that's like the process here to that. Like I think it's so important to learn in like even like I can tell you from experience that like when we first got this building like I was in that mindset, but like I like it's like almost had a relapse type of deal like I like feeling I relapsed out of that but
26:16 It is interesting to me because that's like what the fledge teaches but if you think about it, like power in passion can just mean that that's why I like alot like you doing your thing. If you do what you love all the time, like if your mind is telling you in the it's just like I just know it's right like no one can tell me I'm doing it wrong. Even if they tell me I'm a piece of shavings to tell me I'm packed up for this. I don't care cuz I'm like, I know it's right but like that's like I don't know. I can't wait like to see where it goes because I just I don't know worth it still worth it for them just to see that I am doing this and then to see how it's going to see that they can do something like this and that you can live and do what you want to do and do what you're supposed to do like what your purpose is in life.
27:07 And if everyone did that like everyone would make money because you're the best at what you want to do. Like I don't want it. Even when I'm working for free. This is what I want to be doing. This is what I would be doing for free and that's where the name did come from there for me. There was a there was power it from me finding my passion like it changed my life. And so that correlates what I'm doing because when he's returning citizens when we help them reduce their barriers give them resources to be able to just survive cuz
27:43 Everyday, they're struggling just to survive through that. Just to eat just to find somewhere to live. When we do to reduce our those barriers by giving them resources and give them these tools to find what they're passionate about when they find that and when they start working on that they aren't going to commit a crime. They're not going to go back because there's no need to like Jerry says connection is the opposite of everything.
28:15 So when they start to connect with their passion when they start to connect with people that that are at the fledge to help them or people that also have the same type of passions has them and they're working in their passion. There's no need to do those other things cuz everything's being fulfilled. There's no there's no void that they're trying to fill
28:37 So that need to commit a crime is gone there. They're not bored. But at the same time also somehow that housing need is being mad because it's it's like it just happens. It's like Serendipity when you're do I don't know like I know exactly it's like what I believe like like okay if I get to make money off my car and then I want to buy are like I want to take some of that even if I make $20 I wanted to spend at least $2 or so. We 10% on art or something like that, but it's like cuz I'm trying to repay my love. Like what if I could do it. I love everyday. I have to repay someone else for doing it to you know, you mean but it's like the same things like we're about it's like you're volunteering helping Jerry at the fledge or like something like you're helping someone else in their passion feel like that's like it's like a growing it's expanding all the time. It's just like this like cycle of like, I don't know if everyone did it exactly it's like everyone will be successful ever make money.
29:37 And it's amazing. But I've kind of skipped over your question. Like what power in passion is I'm so we so we help returning citizens reduce the rate at which they commit technical violations right now a big thing with the Michigan Department of Corrections. Is there publicizing how much how how quick play the
30:05 Like how much the the prisons their numbers are decreasing there's not there's not as many prisoners for what they're feeling to say is that there's not as many prisoners because they're giving more people probation instead of putting them in prison or they're letting people out on parole and yeah that might sound right but our Parole in prison or parole and probation numbers have gone up like so much like their crazy high like a hundred and eighty thousand people in Michigan one and four adults in Michigan is on probation or parole right now and before and the thing with that is these technical violations, so if they miss a meeting or they even do something a little bit worse, they fail they fail a drug test that test positive for some type of drug.
30:58 Or missing meeting or don't complete their GED or go somewhere. They're not supposed to go or miss curfew. Then they can go to prison then go back to prison then go back to jail. So they're just it's just a revolving door. Yeah, there's the numbers are lower cuz they keep you on the outside, but there's always people going in and they're not getting out of the system cuz they're just putting them in for 6 months or a year and then taking them out on probation and then violating them and resentencing them. I mean countries original charge. He got 6 months in jail for 18 months probation.
31:36 That's the only crime he is committed all of the additional sentences.
31:43 Have been technical violations he went they they revoked his probation.
31:50 And sent him to Andre sentence him to prison based on a technical violation. No new crime. So that's how they're keeping people in the system and publicly acting like their prison numbers are going down. So if there is to be Criminal Justice Reform at all, there has to be parole and probation or form and were reducing the rate at which they commit technical violations by you know, providing them those resources like housing employment people that hire felons people that will house felons things like that. And then we're also instead of punishing negative behavior like you missed that meeting go to jail for 10 days. We say Hey you made that meeting.
32:38 Here's 20 points on the on the app that we've created. Here's 20 points and those 20 points can turn into Rideshare credits or money for groceries or new clothes for interviews and things like that. So we've created an app that has resources on it that combines. Advocacy. Everyone has a one-on-one Advocate to help them through the struggles. And then also we've gamified that app to promote positive behaviors and reinforce positive behaviors and reinforce connections and are in the community. Oh my God, okay.
33:16 And I mean, I knew that there was like the point thing.
33:20 A nap, but that's amazing because to give them like a reward is like so beneficial in someone's growth. I mean cuz it's like living in hell you think you're tough preschool, you know, so we didn't even know this our app. The app idea was already created in the positive reinforcement of positive behavior was already created and then we found out I could someone came and told Jerry that the first digital therapeutic just got approved by the FDA. So our long-term goal is that our app will be the first FDA-approved product for reducing or eliminating recidivism.
34:08 So because of our that means basically because of our app people
34:14 Will no longer, you know come in and out of prison and jail because they won't have the need to commit those crimes and instead of having to go to a pharmaceutical what usually happens. They'll just get to skip right over to a digital therapeutic which is huge in the re-entry world because obviously they are more prone to substance abuse issues. And right now the only digital therapeutic the first-ever approved as for alcoholism I was going to say is it the I am sober up and it might be because I have that in it has like therapy or something. Like I haven't tried that part yet as a reward positive behaviors and we didn't even know that that existed. So that's our long-term girl and that's how
35:03 I mean I should talk you just growing like it literally went from you wanting to advocate for returning citizens, November 13th.
35:10 What was the hatching September 25th?
35:25 I was just
35:27 I mean everyone to bully with my whole heart with my whole being believed that people should pursue their passion and it can work and it will work itself out if you're 100% committed. I mean I work on this probably over a hundred hours a week because it's all I do because it's all I want that ass. Yeah, it's all I want to do. Oh my God, that's
35:55 It's so crazy cuz yeah.
35:59 I just feel like we're like so similar in such weird ways.
36:14 So there's like
36:18 Storage hear the leaving a legacy. I feel like everything you said has been like of worth the Legacy almost like kids like to take frissell and passion.
36:33 Is there's nothing bad? There's no like a negative thing about having this app. You don't even like there's no bad being put into the world with it. It's only helping people who need it most and who are probably going to be like the most isolated people and connecting them.
36:51 Yeah, it's amazing cuz it's almost like a social media at that point to in a way because like have you thought of doing it so that like people can like see each other stories?
37:02 Yeah, we definitely want to share other people's stories and stuff and have them share their stories. But I mean like the Legacy.
37:11 I mean, I just hope our in passion does I guess you don't want people to look back at me and Power in passion and say they they changed the parole system. They made them see that punishing people for making little mistakes without giving them the resources to succeed.
37:32 Isn't making better people and no matter how you feel about criminals. If they're coming back into your community, which is 90% of the people in prison. Are you should want them to be better? Because if not, it's only going to hurt you and your kids. So that's all I could see you want to leave just you know, people people saying that's how it changed. That's how they made them see that they should help people more. They should rehabilitate more. They should give people more resources. They should they should connect with them and they should, you know, just give people second third fourth fifth chances. You don't know people's story. You don't know what they went through. You don't know what they've struggled with and you can't judge them unless you have they said so and you okay remind me.
38:23 Ideas, I have them prepare. Oh, yeah. I know. But remind me cuz I don't have time to tell you but
38:32 I don't know it sucks. But I feel like it's something you could be like so expensive if he goes so beyond just the people using the app is everyone that wants to help people that might need the app. So it's like the influence serious that like could wear a t-shirt that says power and passion and then their friends are on parole or on probation can get the app Music we're going to make a scream. Yeah. Yeah, but
39:15 I don't know. I think it's like musicians and still talking about it fucking like Kanye. We talked to Norma saying like and he would like ASAP definitely went to yeah, I don't know it just
39:31 It's amazing. They have you heard any pick you for doing this because I love you. I love you. You're my favorite Defender series.
39:48 But no, thank you. This is super cool.