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Building new lives after prison

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A safe place to call home
  • Susan Burton's nonprofit group reaches out to formerly incarcerated women in California
  • Burton on being chosen as a Top 10 CNN Hero: "Dreams do come true in America"
  • Burton would like to assist other re-entry programs across the country
  • Prisons
  • Crime and Law

Editor's note: CNN Heroes received more than 10,000 nominations from 100 countries, and a Blue Ribbon Panel selected the Top 10 CNN Heroes for the year. Voting for the CNN Hero of the Year continues through November 18 (6 a.m. ET) at The winner will be announced at "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute," which airs Thanksgiving night, November 25, at 8 ET.

(CNN) -- Susan Burton's nonprofit organization, A New Way of Life Reentry Project, provides housing and other support to formerly incarcerated women in California. To date, she has helped more than 400 women get back on their feet.

Below are her thoughts on being chosen as a Top 10 CNN Hero.

Q: Where were you when you got the call that you'd been selected as a Top 10 CNN Hero?

Susan Burton: I was driving from a meeting when I got the message that someone had called from CNN. Immediately, I became hopeful it was the big call and returned the call. When [I heard] I had been selected as a Top 10 Hero, my body exploded with joy. It felt like the Fourth of July. I screamed and could hardly contain myself. I am thrilled, excited, grateful and humbled all in the same moment. By the time I got to my office, my face was aching from the huge smile I had carried as I drove in. Dreams do come true in America.

Q: How will you use the $25,000 award that you receive for being selected as a Top 10 CNN Hero, and what will this mean to your work?

Burton: I have so many dreams to help people, to support and create little nonprofits for more re-entry programs across the country. I want to put more resources into other projects, maybe even new computers. This will help me do more of what I want to do.

Q: As this honor began to sink in, what did you think about?

Burton: I thought of all the folks who have been a big part of helping me and the hope that has been transformed into faith to make a better world for people who live in despair. I thought about how much faith I have been blessed to receive through this journey. I thought about how I feel the hand of God protecting and guiding me through this life. I thought of how fortunate I am to be chosen as a CNN Hero and how I will be allowed to help others step up and realize their dream, too. Thank you CNN, and hello Anderson Cooper!