Darlene Luca

My guest today is Darlene Luca. Not only is she the Southern California Career & Re-entry Program Manager for Defy Ventures, she also has 3 years of incarceration experience. This is a woman with a genuine heart of compassion for those hurt, broken souls on the street, in the prisons, and those newly released from prison. She understands the allure of gang life because she used to be in one. She connects with their fear, loneliness, and rejection. There is no judgement in her. She's been given a second chance to right her wrongs, learn from her mistakes, and become the best version of herself. She just keeps giving, encouraging, volunteering, educating, and affirming the value and worth of everyone around her. This is her story.
II was deeply touched by the simple yet profound recognition that Darlene so eloquently gave voice to: Healing is not linear. If you stop and think about it, it makes perfect sense. None of us deal with an issue and move on. It keeps resurfacing and sneaking up on us throughout our life. This is why we seek out friends and therapists to talk to. This is why we get depressed. This is why we often get stuck in cycles of unhealthy thinking. Giving ourselves permission to heal over and over again, even if it's something we thought we dealt with already, is incredibly freeing.

Darlene danced around the ideas of socio-economic and racial inequality as reasons why so many end up incarcerated. Without mentioning these two systemic forces by name, she spoke directly to the effects these causes left unchecked yield in society. I appreciate that she boldly speaks to this and raises her voice yet again for the value and worth of the marginalized. Opportunities, education, and resources should not be allotted to people based on their immigration status, wealth, skin color, or any other reason. Isn't this the heart of social justice work at its core?  Gandhi spoke to this universal truth more than 50 years ago when he said, "The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”

I was inspired by Darlene's quote from Kahlil Gibran, our shared favorite poet, to close with this quote in honor of Darlene and her life's journey. "Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing what will be." I see the work she does for Defy Ventures in this light. May we all learn to recognize and value the humanity in each person we meet, just as Darlene has.

Favorite quote:
Life without liberty is like a body without spirit - Khalil Gibran
Be a lamp or a lifeboat. Help someone's soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd. - Rumi

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