Rockland County Re-Entry Support – A Program Report

The United Way of Rockland provided a grant for women and children to participate in three 14-week programs a year for three years. The women are formerly incarcerated and attend a program that includes life skills, conflict resolution, dealing with abuse, drug and alcohol issues and self-esteem. Their children attend a program with an age-appropriate focus at the same time the women attend their program.

While the main organizers are Creative Response To Conflict and the Rockland Parent Child Center, the program also is a collaboration of Rockland Community College (in-kind space and services, and use of RCC’s Fun and Learn Center), Retired Senior Volunteer Program (provides several volunteers to handle food preparation and work with the children), and Cornell Cooperative Extension (provides financial literacy programs).

The Children:
The children range in age from newborn to 16 years. The Rockland County Re-Entry Support Program for children is extremely successful. They gain confidence, self-esteem, and the ability to speak in front of a group. The themes covered in the children’s program include: cooperation; communication; affirmation; conflict resolution; bias awareness; bullying prevention; and intervention and problem solving. The children have lots of fun and are now modeling many healthy lifestyle choices, such as eliminating soda and drinking juice, water and seltzer and eating at least one vegetable at every meal.

3 rounds of 14-weeks of the re-entry program have been completed and the fourth round starts on January 19, 2012.

Out of 34 women, 2 returned to jail for a short time. Once released from jail, the 2 women completed our program and are now employed.

Out of the 34 women, 24 have fully and successfully completed our 14-week program and 21 children have graduated from the program.

9 women out of 13 received certificates, 12 children and a host of volunteers.

2 women have regained custody of their children.
7 women are now gainfully employed.
1 woman applied to Rockland Community College and is starting the RCC nursing program.
2 women have applied to BOCES.
10 are researching how to obtain their GED so that they can move on to college.
1 woman is off of parole as of December 5, 2011.

2 women returned to jail out of all of the participants. This 2:34 ratio is dramatically better than the recidivism rate of 8 out of ten formerly incarcerated return to prison. With this remarkable accomplishment, we are very proud of our re-entry program and exceptionally grateful for the support of the United Way of Rockland.

Stories of Courage, Hope and Compassion by Richard Deats

Stories of Courage, Hope and Compassion is an easy flowing little book full of insights and wisdoms from everyday heroes. Their stories will inspire readers to find the positive side to life’s most challenging lessons.

Richard Deats first writes about Della Stauber of Bozeman, Montana. Stauber, inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King would type out inspiring little messages on paper, carry them everywhere she went and then hand them out to people she talked to. The little messages were messages of hope in the face of King’s proclaimed three evils: poverty, racism and war.

There is a quote found in the chapter – Visiting the Land Of The Enemy that sums up the meaning behind the stories found in this little book. “ You don’t make peace with your friends. You make peace with your enemies.” This was Yirzhak Rabin’s response to criticism whenever he would meet with Palestinians. The stories in this book exemplify Rabin’s sentiment and the unlikely heroes in this book act on his very words: the Daffodils For Peace in the wake September 11; anti-apartheid Rommel Robert’s growing friendship with his jailer in South Africa; one woman’s work to transform an American president’s Cold War view on Russia; Margaret Cornelia Morgan Lawrence’s unwavering strength and faith in the face of racism and sexism and the Weisser’s love and compassion for KKK leader Larry Trapp.

Richard Deats is a firm believer in the power of humor and incorporates the use of it in many of his writings. In the chapter The Power of Humor, there are many examples of how bringing humor and laughter to an unpleasant or negative situation can bring light to that situation to make it more hopeful. A brighter outlook can make problems feel less like a lost cause.

When one reads Stories of Courage, Hope and Compassion, Mahatma Gandhi’s often spoken words come to mind – “the impossible…ever becoming the possible.” Every chapter in this book is a little life lesson how never to believe good is impossible; it can triumph over all, including evil.