Hamden woman goes from prison to successful business ventures

Hamden woman goes from prison to successful business ventures

Her life was changed by the Horizon program under the leadership of seminary student Nicholas Solak, who would go on to become a priest

Bellamy said Solak “was like an angel” to her, and she wouldn’t be where she is today without him.  He doesn’t know what a profound effect he had on her life, Bellamy said, because they haven’t connected following the
program. But she has kept track of him online and hopes someday to reconnect and tell him of his impact.

Spending three years in prison on felony drug-dealing charges helped Joyce Bellamy become the successful businesswoman she is today.

That’s because Bellamy, now 45, and always a go-getter, was one of the lucky ones changed some 20 years ago by a program at the federal prison in Danbury that resonated and taught her to let go of anger and love herself.
“That forever changed my life,” she said. “It taught you how not to be angry — how to communicate. That program taught me to love me, my color,” she said, referring to her dark skin.
Today, Bellamy owns several businesses in the health care field and employs some 200 people in Greater New Haven.
“I have so many ideas. I feel like I can do anything. With God on my side, I prosper,” Bellamy said.
Bellamy said her anger was rooted in childhood abuse — in the form of beatings. She once believed the parental abuse was because her skin was darker than that of her siblings, but has come to think maybe it was because she was such a thinker it made her difficult to handle. Her young life was rocky.
She was an outstanding student, she said, but, unable to bear the violence at home, from 11 to 14 years old she lived in a New Haven runaway shelter, and from about 14-17 was homeless and selling drugs, although Bellamy said she has never used drugs. As a homeless teen she slept at friends’ homes, in cars, in abandoned buildings, hotels. Through it all she had earned enough credits at Eli Whitney Technical school to graduate with her class and did so three days after giving birth at 16.
Once she graduated, Bellamy continued drug dealing, becoming a distributor of major quantities, then was busted eight years into that and convicted on felony charges related to dealing.
Bellamy, who would give birth to a second child in jail, faced a minimum sentence of 18 years in federal prison, but it was reduced to three years because of the abuse she suffered as a child. At 45, Bellamy has opened Best Choice Home Health Care, in addition to owning Alliance Careers Institute, a school to train certified nurses’ aides, patient care technicians, EKG, phlebotomy and more.

Bellamy, of Hamden, also owns DNA Genetics Lab on State Street and is co-owner of the transportation company Wheelz 4 U, and also of Loving Serenity Home Health Care and Blessings 4ever Home Health Care. She said she’s the only African American to own a genetic testing lab in Connecticut and the only African American certified colon hydro-therapist.
Bellamy also is a paralegal and is channeling that expertise into a new business, Families and Friends Against Deportation, which helps non-citizens and immigrants on deportation matters.
In addition to running the businesses, she often gives others advice and helps them launch businesses.
“I’m a role model for a lot of people,” she said. “I’ve been in the street. I’m resourceful.”
Some people have money, but no ideas; others have ideas, but no money, she said. In some cases the ventures end up as partnerships, she said.
She launched quickly after serving her prison time, working as a certified nurse’s aide, for which she had training during the dealing days, and 10 months later started a health care business, bought her first home, then bought 20 houses and other businesses. She also at one point ran a nonprofit for ex-offenders as a way of giving back.
Three years ago, as the owner of a restaurant and two nightclubs in New Haven, she hit a financial “rock bottom,” after finding herself running the businesses that were originally only for investment.
Aside from the financial drain, she abhorred being immersed in that bar management scene, she said, because she saw too much negativity, from violence to fornication.
“I felt like I was the gatekeeper,” she said, referring to the negative behaviors.
So, drained financially, Bellamy, a mother of five, said she almost had to apply for food stamps.
But she picked herself up by the bootstraps again and went back into the kind of work she likes best: helping others.
“Anything I do has to be something to help someone,” she said.



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