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Support Willard Birts, a self-made entrepreneur
$1,300 raised
43% of $3k goal
20 contributors
2 Years running


As many of you know, I was lucky enough to have met Willard Birts in 2015 while at Stanford. Willard was a participant - and later a proud graduate - of Stanford Law School's Project ReMADE program, which helps formerly encarcerated individuals rejoin the workforce through entrepreneurship. 

As Willard's "business mentor," I won the jackpot. Willard walked into the program on Day 1 with a full business plan, handwritten with careful penmenship on 15 pages of paper. He'd even priced out his expected costs to the cent. Embracing his love of caring for cars, Willard quickly launched Magic Hands, an eco-friendly mobile auto detailing business. With a lot of sweat, Willard has since built Magic Hands into a successful business with 4.5 stars on Yelp!

Willard has become an incredibly important person in my life. His focus and resilience are inspirational. He has moved forward with his life after spending 38 years in prison, last for a non-violent drug-related crime. When I marvel at his ability to work two jobs, in addition to managing his detailing business, he reminds me that anything is easy when you've lived through the hell of prison.

It is with a heavy heart that I tell you that Willard is now facing legal trouble. He insists on his innocence and is scheduled for trial in May. His bail is high because of his prior record from the 80s and 90s, so he will have to remain in custody until May.

I've been visiting him at the Redwood City jail, and he remains calm and resolute that "truth will prevail." He spends his days reading the penal code and books that I've mailed him, counseling younger men who are new to the system, and meditating. 

Many of you have asked how you can help during this stressful time. More than anything, your thoughts about sweet Willard mean the most. That said, if you would like to donate, here's what you'll be supporting: you will help me ensure that Willard's life remains on track when he gets out in May. You will help pay for things like his monthly car payments between now and then, so that he can return to his detailing business as soon as he's out. 

If you'd like to support in a non-monetary way, please send me book suggestions! I've already sent Willard so many books that the guards have told him to ease up, but I'm going to keep them coming. 

I'll leave you with a quote from the most recent letter I received from Willard: "I just received all of the books today. Thank you for providing me with them to help keep my mind on the right track - on the struggle to pull myself up out of poverty. I first started reading Shaka Senghor's Writing My Wrongs, but I had to put the book down after a few pages because it made me cry. I knew it would be telling a story somewhat of my own life on the streets and being locked away in some prison over 38 years of my life. I can feel his pain like every other new African black man growing up in America. The U.S. Constitution states that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of the law...Every time in my life I do my best, others keep trying to hold me down. It only makes me stronger...helps me to get back up to fight another day."

Thank you, friends, for all of the support that you show me everyday. I feel lucky to have you in my life.


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