Help them "Come Home" to stay!

$1,905 of $17,800 goal

Raised by 29 people in 29 months
Jeff Asher
on behalf of Jolanda Jansen
Tanya (not her real name) arrived on that October Tuesday evening in 2015 for the first “Coming Home” session withdrawn and nearly inaudible when she spoke.  Homeless, jobless, trying to regain custody of her children, she was finding it difficult to reintegrate into society after incarceration. 

By the end of the sixth session, Tanya’s shell cracked open.  Maybe it was the growing sense of community during the weekly shared meal; maybe it was the growing sense of trust and safety developing in the sharing circle; maybe it was the growing sense of her own inherent worth and dignity.  Whatever it was, Tanya was finding her voice, finding the inner strength to make real changes in her life and become an advocate for herself.

Just before the Coming Home Graduation celebration in April, Tanya got good news: she was regaining custody of two of her children. The reason?  The judge overseeing the case noted Tanya’s growth during the proceedings and was impressed with what he saw.  So were we, all the members of her Coming Home community. We are so proud of her progress. 

So, what exactly is “Coming Home,” the program supporting such a transformative experience? An experience, by the way, shared by all the people involved: the participants for whom the program is designed, the mentors, the coordinators, the interns, and the people who provided background support.

"Coming Home" is an evidence-informed program that strives to empower individuals returning to the community following incarceration. In Poughkeepsie, New York, the program is sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Poughkeepsie (UUFP), in conjunction with The Beck Institute on Religion and Poverty, and the Fordham Graduate School of Social Service. 

The program length can vary, but the format is simple. Each participant is paired with a mentor. Over the course of several months, there are weekly meetings with the mentors and program coordinators. Each meeting begins with a meal, followed by the sharing of personal stories, goal setting and life skills workshops. Field trips to provide enriching experiences are also scheduled. The program culminates in a graduation ceremony that celebrates the significant work done. 

During the initial UUFP-sponsored 19-week long Coming Home Program, more than a dozen local faith communities worked together to prepare and serve meals. Dinners were served on real plates, with real cutlery, and the participants, mentors, program coordinators and meal providers all break bread together, sending a powerful message to each and every participant: they are not disposable, they are valued. 

Our first graduation was a major celebration. City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison attended, handing certificates of acknowledgement for their progress to our “graduates,” and other community leaders and faith community representatives came out to embrace them and truly welcome them back “home.”

Following this success, the UUFP is enthusiastically seeking to expand the Coming Home Program’s impact on the community, with a target of 15 participants over a 25 week period beginning in the Fall of 2016.

We calculate the cost of the expanded program will be $21,800. While the actual cost of the program is much higher when all of the in-kind donations are included (donated meals, volunteer time, the consultation, oversight, data gathering and program evaluation by the Beck Institute), the $21,800 will cover all other expenses. We have already received an amazingly generous contribution of $4,000, which means we are now only seeking $17,800, which is a modest investment when considered against the cost of having people re-incarcerated because they weren’t afforded a genuine opportunity to reintegrate into society.

Make a difference! Your tax-deductible donation will truly help transform lives in a way few other donations can, using the approach of restorative justice to make participants and the community whole again.

In thanks, each person making a donation will receive, via email, a commemorative pamphlet about our first Coming Home project.
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A BIG thank you to all our early bird donors!

Through all our efforts, we will make Coming Home 2 a reality beginning this fall. And, many lives will be enriched as a result--Participants and mentors alike.

Best regards from the Coming Home Team
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$1,905 of $17,800 goal

Raised by 29 people in 29 months
Created June 7, 2016
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Sandra Lash
6 months ago

In appreciation of Nick Garin and his kindnesses to the AAUW-Poughkeepsie Branch, in support of this terrific social justice project.

21 months ago
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