Sister Hearts

The story of Maryam Henderson-Uloho, founder of Sister Hearts, a thrift store and housing facility for ex-offenders to transition back into society.
Apr 16, 2024 — 6 min read

Starring

Starring

Maryam Henderson-Uloho is the founder and owner of Sister Hearts thrift store and housing facility in Arabi, Louisiana.

About this video series

For Every Kind of Dream

For Every Kind of Dream

We believe in an economy that has room for everyone’s dreams. These are stories of everyday people chasing extraordinary dreams.

See full series

Transcript

Maryam Henderson-Uloho: Mary Henderson, Uloho. U-L-O-H-O. How y'all doing, my brother. Assalamu alaikum, my brother. 

How y'all doing today? All right, you ladies go through a lot more than what anybody could ever imagine and y'all do it with a lot of courage. Now, all of you, you're beautiful and I need you to feel good about yourselves. We're going to start in this corner here and I want you to just introduce yourself and tell me something good about you. 

Theresa: Well, my name is Theresa and something good about me, I'm a good mother. 

Maryam Henderson-Uloho: Beautiful. Come on with it. Give me some of you. Give me some of you. 

Yasmique Washington: My name is Yasmique Washington. I've been in the pimping and hoeing game since I was 14. 

Maryam Henderson-Uloho: Well, give me a good.

Yasmique: A good Well, I'm loving. I'm caring. I'm very loyal until you cross me. 

Maryam Henderson-Uloho: Okay. Talk to me back there. Share with me. 

Tawanda: Hi, my name is Tawanda. I'm a beautiful black African American female. I'm loving.  

Maryam Henderson-Uloho: Could you say that one more time? 

Tawanda: I'm a beautiful black African American woman. 

Maryam Henderson-Uloho: I love that.

Tawanda: I have a passion for people. I have five kids and at the age 12 I was told I wasn't going to be shit, amount to nothing. Or none of that. 

Maryam Henderson-Uloho: We good? Alright. Now ladies, let me share something with you. There was a time in my life when I didn't feel there was any good in me at all. And the reason for that is because I was sitting on that side where you guys are today, not so long ago. So during my many days behind bars, I had to go inside myself and find something good about me because I felt like trash. When I got out of prison, I had nowhere to go. I could not rent an apartment because I was a felon. You can't get a job, you can't get a bank account, you can't get a credit card. You're not allowing me to have the tools that I need to sustain myself out here in society. And as a woman, I had to think about my safety in a way that a man wouldn't have to. I didn't know what to do. I was alone. I was scared. I had no one. I knew there were women that was coming home from prison that was in the same boat that I was in. Good morning ladies. Good morning everybody. Time to wake up. They didn't have a place to stay. They didn't feel safe. They couldn't make money. They felt like I felt, and that's when I realized this is a real big problem. And that's where Sister Hearts really started. Let me see your face. Good morning. Good morning. Okay, look everybody, let's start helping set the table. Okay, we need some plates. So we have reunion this weekend. You going to be here, right? If not, I'm coming to get you. 

Sister Hearts is a thrift store and a temporary housing facility specifically for ex-offenders to transition back into society. It may only take a week, it may just take a month or up to a year, but I'm going to make sure that you have a place to stay and a job. It's not just the physical incarceration that causes damage, that takes time to adjust back to society because a lot of us have been away for a long time. When I got out of prison, I needed to be rehabilitated. I needed help. You see in prison you're broken mentally, emotionally and physically. That's what prison does. It breaks people. I was brutalized and I saw so much suffering. I used to close my eyes and I would always see myself in nature. I would see the trees all around me feel the sun shining on my face. I would hear the wind as it ruffled the leaves in the trees and I would always think what it would feel like if I could just leave this place. 13 years out of my life I spent behind bars and over half that time I spent in solitary. They used shame to keep my mind cage. They said I wasn't going to be nothing. I wasn't nothing. I wasn't shit. Okay. As an ex-offender myself, I'm here to prove no matter what you going through, you'll going to all rise above it. Sister Hearts, how can I help you? This is Maryam speaking. Okay, well first we're located at 7519 West Judge Perez in Arabi. This all started when I was homeless, living as a squatter, selling junk out of a suitcase from street corner to street corner as a means to survive. No one regarded me as even a person. Just take this and you're going to clean that off. And then let's just start going through some there. Ex-offenders. We are a group of people that have been discarded by society. 

Speaker 1: You examined them? Yeah, they're nice. 

Maryam Henderson-Uloho: So we relate to those discarded items. We relate to that trash. Theresa, how much you think these should be? 

Speaker 1: Those right there. They're a little worn, but they still have a little more wearing to go. $4. That would be straight. With the $4. No more. No less. 

Speaker 1: So give me an idea on these four. 

Speaker 2: On those four, if I was to do all four those I probably would. 12 bucks. 12, yeah. $3 each. 

Speaker 1: That is smart. 

Maryam Henderson-Uloho: Who is the 92 horse? 

Speaker: I have no idea. Alright, maybe you should Google it. 

Maryam Henderson-Uloho: Oh yeah, Google. 1992 caps. I don't think I did that right. Okay. Who got a better Google than me? 

Speaker: I do, but mine doesn't talk. 

Maryam Henderson-Uloho: In prison. You're told what to do almost 24 hours a day. When your brain is under that type of discipline, year after year, you lose the ability to think on your own. So we have created an environment to teach people how to think. Again, I pick a section of the store that's cluttered and they completely reorganize that section by themselves and they also set the prices. 

Speaker: The Shaw is 2 9 9 and up the highest is going to be, it's like $5. Okay? So you don't ever.

Maryam Henderson-Uloho: Now they're starting to learn the dynamics of customer service. 

Speaker: If you don't get it, I'm going to get it. 

Maryam Henderson-Uloho: And it works. It really works because you start to think about your own value. And as ex-offenders, we need that. 

Speaker: You need help, ma'am. The table, you want to know how much it costs. 

Maryam Henderson-Uloho: They have purpose. They're part of something. They can redefine who they are. As an ex-offender, I am not down here to put you down, to look down on you, to talk down on. I ain't here for none of that. What I'm doing is trying to make a way for you out there. So when you do get out there and you say, I want a better life. I want to do this, I want to do that, I want to do this. All y'all got to remember is Sister Hearts. Sister hearts. Y'all need each other. Y'all call up on each other. You're not alone. You don't have to fight this battle by yourself no more. Y'all got help. We here. We don't let nobody break this bond in this circle. This is what's called One Love. Y'all get it. All right, sister. Hearts for life. For Life starts. Sister Hearts for life. When I was in prison, I met a lot of wonderful women. Those women was with me when I was lonely, when I was hurting, when I was frustrated, those women gave me comfort and I call those women my sister hearts. 

Speaker: I was sentenced to two and a half years for a marijuana charge. When you go back into society, you have to start all over again. So many things has changed. You have to catch up with the times. 

Speaker: My son and my daughter, they was like five and seven and when I come home they was like 24, 27 years old. It was scary learning how to adjust back out in society. But I haven't been in no other kind of trouble at all. 

Speaker: I was incarcerated for 25 years. Nothing takes the actual pain away from doing the time. It hurts. It really hurts. It messes you up. It's still hard. I'm still struggling, but I'm free. 

Maryam Henderson-Uloho: We are not dependent on society to rehabilitate us. We have taken the reigns to rehabilitate ourselves. We can't came from death, which was prison to life, and that's what Sister Heart is for me. It's life. What I want to do with my life is to help other ex-offenders really live. I want them to feel how wonderful they are. I want them to know they matter. Just because they've committed a crime, they are no less of a human being. They can regain their dignity. They can be successful after incarceration.

Related

The story of Maryam Henderson-Uloho, founder of SisterHearts, a thrift store and housing facility for ex-offenders to transition back into society.

More from this video series

Previous

Lakota in America

Apr 16, 2024 — 5 min read
Next

Balloons

Apr 18, 2024 — 2 min read

Tell us a little more about yourself to gain access to the resource.

i Enter your first name.
i Enter your last name.
i Enter a valid email.
i Enter a valid phone number.
i Enter your company name.
i Select estimated annual revenue.
i This field is required.
✓

Thank you!
Check your email for your resource.

x
Results for

Based on your region, we recommend viewing our website in:

Continue to ->