Jose: Behind The Wall

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Jose Lorenzo grew up behind bars, after being pulled into the criminal justice system as a child. When he re-emerged in the outside world, he longed for the stability that comes with having your own four walls. Now a case manager fighting for housing access, Jose is making his voice heard in his community and all the way to the White House. He joins Stephanie to talk about how he made it through a decade-long sentence, and the knowledge and opportunities that helped shape who he is today: a father, a leader, and an aspiring politician.

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To follow along with a transcript, go to shortly after the air date.



Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jose Lorenzo

Jose Lorenzo  00:19

If you think about everything on the outside, you drive yourself crazy. If you worry about your loved ones too much, you drive yourself crazy because there’s nothing you can do.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  01:04

Jose Lorenzo spent most of his youth behind bars. As a young kid, he was in and out of the juvenile justice system. And at 22, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. But since his release and 2019, Jose has committed his life to helping formerly incarcerated individuals, specifically in their fight for housing, both in his hometown of Boston and beyond. And let’s just say he’s been busy.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  01:36

And there was a White House invitation it’s?


Jose Lorenzo  01:40

Oh, yes, oh, I’m sorry.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  01:44

You literally forgot?


Jose Lorenzo  01:46

Yeah, forgot.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  02:02

This is Last Day, a show about the moments that change us. I’m your host, Stephanie Wittels Wachs. Today, a story of being cut off from the world, only to reemerge, ready to change it.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  02:26

Jose Lorenzo is a case manager for justice for housing. It’s a grassroots organization based in Boston, Massachusetts, that provides housing and family reunification to justice involved individuals. That’s basically a catch all term to describe people who have had any involvement with the criminal justice system. Essentially, his job is to help formerly incarcerated people access housing and battle the numerous complicated barriers that make that process feel impossible. This work is critical. Most of us don’t think about it. But having a safe place to lay your head down every night is such a necessary ingredient for success as a human being. But before he became a community leader, Jose was just another kid trying to make his way in the Boston Neighborhood where he grew up.


Jose Lorenzo  03:13

So I was born of two immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic. they’re first born on both sides. And I grew up in the neighborhood of Roxbury, with the district of Roxbury in Boston, primarily. And while I’m leaving this to say that, that is a poverty riddled community, so yeah, just growing up out there, just a tough neighborhood. Being a son of immigrants, my English wasn’t the best and you know, just tough upbringing having to, you know, fight every day and just show and prove that you can, you can survive out here just so that people can let up it says is the process of the community, but it’s fine, because you know, it sharpens people, it prepares you for the world. Unfortunately, when you step outside, you can’t avoid everyday struggles and what you see and coming home to poverty, you know, the youth just feel like they have to figure it out. And we kind of taken adult route at a young age. And that’s what I did. Beyond my mother’s wishes, of course, I took to the streets, I found that for myself, I needed to survive. I violence was evident in my neighborhood, rival streets and this area to that area wearing this color to that color. This was just part of the community at the time, not to demonize my community, but um, it’s just an aspect of it, it does exist, and Boston doesn’t really show it. You don’t hear about that when it comes to Massachusetts. A lot of people don’t even know a community like that exists. A lot of people think it’s just the colleges, sports. And really, there’s crime out here this our media does a very good job at kind of brushing it under the rug. And so that’s why it doesn’t look like there’s a huge crime aspect out here.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  05:20

Do you remember how old you are when you first sort of registered like I have to fight to survive? I have to like, yeah, like little like, how old are ya?


Jose Lorenzo  05:30

Oh, yeah, I’m talking to elementary school, fighting on the back of the bus just being the new kid. Boston is highly segregated, and so there was a lot of racism growing up, so and not even between black and white or Hispanic I mean, it was separate all the way down from Hispanic to Hispanic, I mean, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans fought all the time. And it was ridiculous, but that was the initial kind of initiation to the life of violence in the city, fighting over the simplest things, and then they became over this, then that and this and that. And I’ve, unfortunately, it’s a give and take, you know, you you’ve, you’ve been the attacked and you you become the attacker, you know, after a while, you know, you get your first taste of unfair justice, you start seeking unfair justice. So it’s just an endless cycle, once it begins.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  06:38

Like violence, unfair, justice can also become a cycle. And once the justice system enters Jose’s life, it won’t let him go.


Jose Lorenzo  06:48

From my very first arrest, just always being arrested for for something I didn’t do and getting away with everything I did. You know, that was like my life


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  07:01

And being arrested. What were you in sixth grade?


Jose Lorenzo  07:05

Sixth grade, sixth grade, my last day of school, I begged my mother not to go she sent me anyways. She sent me anyways, I got arrested for a sitting at a I was sitting on the steps of a dentist office, but it was in like a residential house. I thought it was just a house. I didn’t even realize it was like a dentist office. I was waiting for the bus, the bus stop was directly in front of the steps. And two unmarked offices in a unmarked vehicle pulled up and I didn’t know they were police officers so I said, who are you? Why are you telling me to get off the steps? I’m in sixth grade, you know, defiant. And they didn’t hesitate, they jumped right out, grabbed me slam me that, you know, it was immediate force. And that was my first taste of it. You know, they you know, looking back at it, they unjustly you know, they didn’t have to use that kind of aggression with me. I didn’t resist them once I knew they were officers anything I stood right up, but because I had talked back originally, they felt the need to hurt a sixth grader. And, um, you know, they kept me handcuffed to a chair until my mother came and got me. And series of court after that, and yeah, I ended up on probation. To them I had to plead guilty. Yeah, just had it was the endless cycling.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  08:32

In front of a dentist office.


Jose Lorenzo  08:34

You didn’t get to yet.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  08:36

After that first arrest, Jose says he went in and out of the prison system. But he stayed in school, eventually graduating as a senior and always manage to keep a job. But in 2008, he was charged with firearm possession and sentenced to a year and a half in prison, eventually he was released on probation. But this is when things took another turn a sharp one. At a routine visit to his probation officer he was presented with an arrest warrant from another town.


Jose Lorenzo  09:06

I was 19 still serving my gun possession. I came home for eight months and when in 22. Especially just I just got out it was just it was.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  09:20



Jose Lorenzo  09:22

And at the time I had a child on the way so my firstborn, my 12 year old, my oldest Haarlem. He hadn’t even been born yet, he was about a month away of being born before they took me off the streets. So I had to watch him grow up through pictures, basically, throughout my entire bed. I mean, I would say that was the worst part. Just knowing I had a child out there, especially a little boy who looks just like me, and that I potentially left them out there to fall at the same fate.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  10:00

This new case would eventually be the one that sent him away for 10 years. To be clear, Jose never pleaded guilty, he continues to assert his innocence. And he’s currently in the process of clearing his name. It seems like growing up, when you’re on the streets, you were working on just survival. You go in to prison? And is that themes still there? I mean, how are you? Like, yeah, and then how do you keep going with a baby at home and not, you know, like, your, your time being taken like that.


Jose Lorenzo  10:37

You know, you just you grow numb to it. Um, there’s a very huge mental aspect to prison, it’s designed to demonize you is designed to bring you to your most animalistic state, and you can’t get lost in there. I went, I think about did a total three years, but I went right back, I wouldn’t accept visits, and I wouldn’t call just to kind of prepare myself. Because I know I did a year and a half, and people couldn’t even do that. So I, you know, especially after I got sentenced, and I knew exactly how much time I was facing 20 to life, the DA wanted 20 life, and the judge was the one that denied him and said, no, I’m gonna give this young man nine to 10. But, yeah, you just numb yourself. Um, especially after you know what the time is, I just had to prepare myself to you know, not to have those expectations anymore. It’s about what’s happening right in here. And then there’s the violence aspect of that as well, is plenty of violence in there. Between convicts and correctional officers, between convicts, and convicts, and so on and so forth. There’s, there’s plenty of it in there so there was also that is just survival, you know, you had to get prepared, you have to be mentally fit, physically fit, or break you, you will definitely break you. So that’s how I survived,I just turned everything off, and I became prison.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  12:22

A year and a half that Jose had just spent incarcerated, prepared him in a lot of ways for what he was up against now, this time, it was just a longer sentence much, much longer.


Jose Lorenzo  12:36

It was the pipeline straight from school to, to prison, you know, literally. And so I was prepared for it. I already had a name. So I was well received, which also made it difficult amongst me and staff, because I was well received. And, but then it made it. Okay, amongst me and staff, because I was so well received that they didn’t want to go there, you know, here and there or what have you so, and I’m pretty, you know, upfront and forward guy with them as well, so there was a mutual respect, you know, I talked to them. I didn’t cuss at them, but I just let them know, you know, hey, listen, I’m a man and you’re not going to dehumanize me. So, let’s figure out what kind of day we’re having.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  13:28

Years go by and Jose’s attitude remains the same as a means of survival. He puts up walls of his own and cuts himself off from the outside world. But as time goes on, eventually things start to shift. Younger prisoners begin to look up to him, he starts to carry himself differently. Eventually, he’s got to start thinking about what his life will look like on the other side. And part of that journey begins with learning more about the outside world.


Jose Lorenzo  13:59

Because I have been in prison so long, I’ve always been, you know, a seeker of knowledge because you have number time, but to read and know whatever and you’re in there was some there, some scholars in there, there are some real Norfolk MCI, Norfolk actually has a BU program where guys and Derek can graduate from Boston University. And so, you know, this, this intelligent man behind the wall, and it started with them, just educating themselves on the law, and then just seeking more knowledge of the world, but this, you know, you don’t want to be the dummy in those conversations. So of course, naturally, just, you know, just being able to communicate. I was fortunate enough to have two elder brothers, that I called my brothers who kind of raised me and mentored me from the streets. And also in the prison because we all ended up inside of prison together on separate occasions, but in the same prisons. And so I was fortunate enough to have these older mentors that made sure. You know, I wanted to drop out of high school so bad on my last year, and they literally would drop me off every day, they would not allow me to drop out. I mean, hunt me every day, call my phone well, you’re picking you up, you want lunch? And then yeah, so, you know, although they lived a life of crime itself, they still made sure that and so I was never allowed to be a dummy. So I pride myself in being an intellectual. So I just pursued that, and there was a teacher by the name of Mrs. T. No shout out to her, because she created her own curriculums around certain things that she thought that we would be interested in learning, and she’ll create these classes, and you can sign up for them. It was something like, um, childhood development, in which she taught us the development in the behavioral systems in young men. And you know, all these things. And so it made you reflect on your life. We did a course on the history of prisons, to help us understand what was going on and why they were doing this to us, and what made them create this form of punishment, because you can look at other parts of the world and they don’t imprison like we do here in the States. It’s amazing to to to learn the history, and where it all stemmed from the first forms of punishment was they put a metal mask over your head? That was your prison, you were in there. That just goes to show that it starts with the mind, you know,


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  17:03

Jose is also being given creative outlets to express himself. He starts putting his musical talent to use as a vocalist and a songwriter, performing and getting more comfortable with being in the spotlight.


Jose Lorenzo  17:17

We had a stage we have live bands, we had state representatives come inside and watch me perform. Yeah, you know, I personally sang to state representative Gloria Foxx on her birthday. The police commissioner was in there at one point and several people Jana Presley. And yeah, I mean, if you can entertain some of the most hardened miserable people in the world and there and get them to stand up on their feet and say thank you, for that show. You got something. So it was it was an amazing experience. And it helps with any kind of stage fright.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  17:56

Jose is starting to see the power of his voice. As a natural born leader speaking to crowds was no problem. Through all of these opportunities, and his charisma and talent and dedication, the man he would become on the outside starts to take shape. It’s so striking, you talk about kind of turning it off and becoming numb and not not intentionally thinking about time, right? Was there a moment where you started to think about getting out and what that was gonna be like and what you wanted? And what like, when did you start to allow yourself to have a taste of that? And what was that like?


Jose Lorenzo  18:37

While I was always trying to develop what it is that I was going to do different when I came home, I always tried to figure that out because I just knew that I can, I can do something different that that was keeping me away from a lot of trouble. Me just focusing on that. So I knew I had something that I could do with my life. I just needed to figure out what I didn’t think of any of the things that I’m doing right now, at all. My focus was get home get my son because he ended up in the foster care system. And that’d be became my goal after that.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  21:56

We’re back. And after spending nine years in prison, Jose is finally set to be released. For the first time in nearly a decade. He gets to come home.


Jose Lorenzo  22:31

First of all, have my cousin pick me up and she dropped me off at my father’s house who was in the Dominican Republicans. And I got out July 1 of 2019. So it was in the middle of summer is brutal in Boston is the most violent part of our year. And and on top of that the heat people go crazy. And so I did not leave the house for two days. First come I just watched from my window. There was no food in the house, mind you. My father left me bread and the beloved the most simplest things you can think of? Yeah, like just he and he swore he loved me so much food. So luckily for me, my cousin went and grabbed a nice plate from her mother, my aunt who cooked me my favorite Dominican dish, so my first day.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  23:36

What was it?


Jose Lorenzo  23:37

Mash plantings in shrimp in a in a nice sauce that we make and that’s all I wanted was shrimp. Mashed plantains.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  23:47

Sounds incredible.


Jose Lorenzo  23:48

Yeah, so I survived by that, that first day, but I didn’t leave the house. Just I couldn’t or when just hearing everything, the noise the people walking by. It was just too much, and then my mother picked me up to take me shopping. And I mean, I told her I said, listen, I’m not ready to be around a bunch of people, she’s like, you’ll be fine. Okay? Like, all right we get into the mall. Walking inside the mall, we go inside the store. I mean, people are just brushing past me. You know, there’s no sense of space people are just and I was just, I was losing it. I mean, I had to tell like, look, I can’t do it. I gotta get out of here, I’m sorry. It’s just too much, please. She was like, no, stop get that out of your head. You’re not in there anymore. I’m like, you’re not understanding. I can’t breathe, please just get me out of here I’m gonna lose my mind. And it took a while for her to register like okay, all right. This isn’t something I can just talk them out of, let’s go.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  24:58

Jose says It took him about got a week to finally be okay, just moving through the outside world, there would continue to be lingering effects. But he’s starting to make progress inch by inch. Then came all the practical obstacles, many of which he didn’t even know to expect.


Jose Lorenzo  25:15

I mean, a lot of us never paid a bill before, you know, people that grew up in prison, you’ve never even had anything in your name, you don’t know anything about the process, where do you go, you don’t know anything about having a bank account, you don’t know anything about any of that. So when I came home, I immediately got a job in construction as a laborer, um, I was able to land a prevailing wages site, which pays you more than they would normally. And so, you know, I’m, I got my first car right away, financed it. So that was a new bill. And then I was able to kind of save enough money to think I can rent an apartment, and started seeking, and it saw that I still couldn’t. And, and I was looking into resources, like, you know, I don’t know, assistance on rent, or whatever. And just learning about, okay, you don’t even have tenant history, credit is a factor, I had gotten my credit, this high, and then missed one payment on that car, and it was immediately this low. And I didn’t know it was that, that simple to just lose all of that. And I shouldn’t have took an advantage of when mines was all the way up here. But these are things we don’t consider because we want to hurry up and, you know, catch up to the rest of society. But when you’re like a newborn, you have no record yourself. When landlords looking to you then like, I don’t trust this person, they’re 30 something years old, and you’ve never lived anywhere, you have nothing that I can dealing with you man, and you’re going to put a hole holes in my wall.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  27:08

So it’s like you you’re back in the world, but you can’t get your foot in the door. I don’t think people realize how critical housing is to staying out of prison to to getting your feet back on the ground.


Jose Lorenzo  27:28

I mean, I’ve like I said I was in and out of prison, and the main factor from being in and out of prison was having nowhere to go. And that was my main concern coming home, if not my child and all that was where am I going to go? I don’t want to stay with anyone. I was seeking housing the entire time, I was trying to figure out what is the housing aspect? I can’t live with people anymore I can’t rely on loved ones anymore. What can I do? Can I get on the housing list now while I’m waiting in prison, I technically count as homeless but no, guess what you don’t you’re being housed. That’s what they say.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  28:16

In a lot of ways home was what Jose was always missing. As a teenager, he didn’t like his living situation and took to the streets instead. In prison, which is certainly no home, he wondered where he would go next. And now back in the outside world, he finally gets the opportunity to be in his own space. And it is an incredible feeling.


Jose Lorenzo  28:39

And you should see the faces on people when they get their keys. It’s like the the weight off everyone’s shoulders the you know that that first night in your place just showered the forget I don’t even I don’t think I don’t mind, I don’t have no cable TV or nothing. I just kind of stared at the ceiling and just was like, man, finally I walked around in those socks. Slide and about that. You know, like Tom Cruise and yeah, you know, just just taking it all in like yep, this is all me if no, okay, no one kicked me out. Can you knows this is this is mine. I’ve never had that before. And so now the reason why I don’t want to, I don’t want to go anywhere, cherish I cherish it.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  29:36

But things aren’t perfect, once Jose gets his own place, and he runs into a lot of the same problems that everyone faces when they rent their first apartment.


Jose Lorenzo  29:45

I ended up taking the first thing that I I could, and unfortunately it was kind of like a slumlord situation. The place immediately started falling apart after I moved in there There was roaches. The ceiling in my bathroom started caving in the person above me their tub was bought to come through the bathroom [..] Yeah, so luckily for me the land the landlord, he, he sold the building right after I moved in. So that that kind of voided my my lease because now there was a new landlord who wanted a new rent, and he needed a new lease. So I said, I’m good to go. I know you can keep this place I’m out of here. So I was only there for a few months. And I ended up getting into a way better I’m in a condominium now. You know, I was in my old stomping grounds of Roxbury, in the first apartment. In the smallest size street you could believe. You know, the loudest community and now coming from prison, I don’t cherish the loud music anymore, I kind of want solitude and silence you have like an old bed now.


Jose Lorenzo  32:35

Me going through the process myself kind of put me in the position to be able to basically help others like myself. And I think it just made things a smoother transition for a lot of individuals. Because it’s you know, it’s awkward when they had to speak about their struggles with people who may not have that experience and they don’t want to talk about it normally, but when they find out that yeah, you know, I went through it if, if not like them maybe more. It just gives them a little ease and in the process.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  33:14

Jose’s drive to give back to his community has really fueled his post prison life. But soon after his release those same good guy instincts to help in big and small ways, almost threatened to derail everything.


Jose Lorenzo  33:30

Real brief that to you the story there was one time a friend of mine asked me to give his then pregnant girlfriend arrived. And so I went and picked her up and and almost got arrested.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  33:48

When he picked her up a friend of hers gotten the car too, only she was in possession of something as Jose put it, when an unmarked detective pulled up routinely because Jose was parked in front of a hydrant. She quickly tried to ditch it. It wasn’t quick enough.


Jose Lorenzo  34:04

I literally just came home months prior and I was only just trying to give somebody a ride. I’ve never told the story before. And the panic that set in my heart that day was enough, you know, to say you’ll find another way to help people. You know, this ain’t it. This leaves people where they’re at, but I couldn’t believe it. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe she would do that. Luckily for me, the officers saw that it was directly in front of her. You know, nothing came up out of that. And they said to me, they said man, they you know they look up your record. So what are you doing out here? You just got out. You don’t much time you just did like why are you even how has it been? I’m just giving somebody a ride. I don’t know nothing, about nothing, I don’t feel like it’s all right. But imagine there was a sergeant day they didn’t want to hear it, he said, no, I’ll take him too, you know, I got lucky. Those officers said, they waited for this urgently, they say, look, man, we know you go ahead. You know, I was on probation with 20 the life as my sentence at the time. So I would have to go back inside, you know, forever, and never even made it to this level and stage.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  35:33

And at this point, the stage he’s on is a pretty big one. Before our interview, I’d spoken with Leslie Creedal, the executive director at justice for housing, who had first introduced me to Jose. And in talking with Leslie to, she says that you are in high demand these days, or you’re getting some incredible opportunities. Can you tell us about those?


Jose Lorenzo  35:56

Yeah, well, I mean, besides podcasting, and stuff, of which I’ve gotten a few inquiries. I’ll be running for city council, hopefully within the next year for to 2024. I think we need more people in there that come from this background and experience to be able to give that insight because no one’s really in there that knows what it is that we need in order to be able to combat recidivism. So we need more people that understand that in there, so I’m hoping to be the first.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  36:38

And it was a White House invitation?


Jose Lorenzo  36:41

Oh, yes. I’m sorry.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  36:45

Okay, yeah, totally forgot. White House.


Jose Lorenzo  36:49

Yes, yeah,


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  36:50

That’s a flex.


Jose Lorenzo  36:51

Yeah, they said, they requested my insight on the housing crisis, which I gave it to them. And I discussed our plight as formerly incarcerated individuals in this country. And basically, everything you heard me say, here is what I reiterated to them on these initiatives, and yeah, they yeah, I forgot they were, it was. It happened already yes, it was.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  37:25

Incredible that you were invited, and then incredible that you forgot your. I don’t know which is better, I don’t know, which is more impressive. Jose story has already changed hearts, minds and laws. But it just as easily could have gone the other way. That’s why when he talks about issues like recidivism, people listen. And he is adamant about the role that housing plays, and all of that.


Jose Lorenzo  37:51

I truly believe is a stepping stone, I don’t want to say it is the factor to preventing recidivism. Because anything can happen right now we have 100% success rate, none of our clients have recidivate it, not to say that they won’t, is just to say that they have now found, if things are getting too much for them outside, they have somewhere to go. Now that they’ve acquired this, they have something to lose. And those two factors alone are pivotal and lease on the mental aspect of somebody combating recidivism, because trying to figure out where you’re going to stay when your next meal is what drives towards crime predominantly.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  38:42

Yeah, I mean, your basic human needs, food, shelter.


Jose Lorenzo  38:46

Shelter, especially if you have people depending on you, you come home and you have children or what have you. You know that that stress is on your shoulders, and you’re like, I gotta house my loved ones or I’m nothing out here.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  39:04

According to Jose, these high stakes mean that formerly incarcerated individuals end up being some of the best tenants. They don’t want to risk losing their home when they’ve already lost so much. And it’s up to people fighting for housing access to busts the myths and stereotypes that say otherwise, not to mention reminding landlords of the law.


Jose Lorenzo  39:26

The reason why we’ve been successful is because we’ve educated landlords and homeowners and we’ve held them accountable along the way because a lot of times they’re denying people and that’s against the law now, you can’t deny people because of the record, but they can deny you for something else and make you know the make it seem it’s like it’s about that but truly it’s about your record would never known, yeah, but a lot of times when you let them know, hey, if it’s because of this, you know, that’s discrimination and you know, you can be held accountable there, like, little more hesitant to just do anything. And so what happened is just as for housing as as a whole the name spread it. So now when clients go then to say, yeah, voucher from justice for housing, oh, okay, say no more. We’ve, we have no problem there. So it’s a give and take. It makes everything smoother for everyone.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  40:28

It’s easy to get caught up in Jose story as a feel good narrative of overcoming the odds. But it’s actually a lot simpler than that. As Jose said, when he was still incarcerated long before he could imagine any of this. He just wanted to be able to provide a safe space for the son he didn’t get to see grow up. That simple goal was the root of everything that has come since his son Harlem, who is now 12 years old, had ended up in foster care, and their union was contingent upon Jose having stable housing. And these days, Jose’s home is more than just a roof over his own head.


Jose Lorenzo  41:08

He has his own room at my house. We have I have a two bedroom. I have two other small children now. So I have three boys, so well, yeah oh, yeah. Somebody helped me.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  41:25

How old are your two little ones?


Jose Lorenzo  41:26

Oh, two and one. Shout out to my son’s guy. I love them all but yeah, I have the Gridiron Gang there, yeah.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  41:42

Beyond the political aspirations, local and national advocacy work, and everyday successes as a case manager, it’s little moments with his family that Jose is the most grateful for, like, evenings spent cooking meals together. Even if he’s got little work to do.


Jose Lorenzo  41:59

I’m still not the best if I’m being honest, with a cook.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  42:04

You could spend an hour making your kids the best meal and they won’t eat it. And then you’re like, why did I give up this hour of my life?


Jose Lorenzo  42:12

Who will you tell.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  42:13

Us my one wild and precious life cooking for these little monsters, who will not eat anything.


Jose Lorenzo  42:21

Yeah, kudos to their mothers because they’re the best. All of that, I am truly not the that’s not where I shine at all. But I do my best. I mean, I never knew how to cook. If I’m being honest, even in prison, all of my friends would cook. I was never the cook. I just provide ingredients. You know, so I was spoiled in there. Unfortunately, so I came home, I’ve been trying to learn. I’ve done some dishes. I’ve done some traditional Dominican dishes, and I’m proud to say I did it. But it’s an you know, even that that made me feel just so like, normal. Preparing food, clearing off my section cleaning my dishes. I don’t know just even yet feeding my kids. It’s like, you know, I feel accomplished after because it’s like, Ah, they’re fed good, I did my job. They are my lovely chaos. Yeah, so they come through like a tornado. You know, I get sad when they leave, they come on weekends, and then when, when they’re gone it’s so quiet again. Even though I’m mad, you know. I’m going crazy when they’re there. I’m like, all right, be quiet, you know? It’s alright, let’s settle down you guys. But when they leave, it’s eerily quiet so it’s like, I gotta wait to next weekend for these guys. And so you know, I’m just thankful to even have it, I didn’t, I didn’t know if I ever would.



I got some good news for you. There’s even more LAST with Apple premium, subscribers get exclusive access to content like Kate’s tips and advice for anyone thinking of joining a grief group. Sign up now on Apple podcasts. Also, this is the first episode of the new season. If you want to know what else we have in store, I have more good news. We’ve got a little sneak peek that we dropped into the feed today. So go ahead and check that out. LAST DAY is a production of Lemonada Media. The show is produced by Kegan Zema, Aria Bracci and Tiffany Bui. Our engineer is Brian Castillo music is by Hannis Brown. Steve Nelson as our Vice President of weekly content and production. And Jackie Danziger is our Vice President of narrative content and production. Executive Producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and me Stephanie Wittels Wachs. If you like what you heard today, we have three other seasons that you can check out. Have a story you’d like to share, head to, or click the link in the show notes to fill out our confidential Google Form. follow and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts or listen ad free on Amazon music with your Prime membership. You can find us online at Lemonada Media and you can find me at @wittelstephanie. Thank you for listening. We will see you next week.

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