Published on April 13, 2017
As part of the 5th annual Mayors and County Day of Recognition for National Service, Mayor Mitch Landrieu presented Danielle Metz, a CCANO AmeriCorps member since December 2016, with the Joseph Massenburg Memorial Award for Excellence in National Service. The award is given to participants of AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps Vista and Senior Corps who demonstrate an exemplary commitment to service in the New Orleans community.
In 1993, Danielle, then 26 years old and a mother of two, received three life sentences plus an additional 20 years for conspiracy to distribute cocaine. President Obama’s efforts to commute sentences and grant clemency to non-violent drug offenders inspired Danielle to fight for a chance at life outside the prison walls. Never giving up hope, she fought for clemency and the chance to see her children again.
With the help of a letter written to President Obama from U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite, Danielle was granted her freedom on August 30, 2016, after 23 years behind bars.
Danielle has dedicated her life to telling her story so others can learn from it. Since her release, she has spoken to participants of St. Vincent de Paul’s Re-Entry 72 program, Loyola University New Orleans’ Jesuit Social Research Institute, Catholic Charities’ Annual Symposium for Systemic Change and Criminal Justice Reform and more.
As a CCANO AmeriCorps member, Danielle serves with our Food for Families/Food for Seniors program, packing monthly food boxes to be delivered to low-income senior citizens. In addition to this, she is actively seeking full-time employment and receiving workforce development training.
Her greatest joy since being released, aside from reuniting with her family, was being able to write President Obama a letter personally thanking him for her freedom. Danielle believes that her freedom is a gift and shows her appreciation to all who helped and supported her throughout the process by helping others and giving back to the community.