Collection dates: Sundays May 16, 23 & 30
The Prison and Reentry Ministry again is preparing to stuff backpacks to give to men being released from prison. When released they have the clothes they are wearing and very little else. The backpacks provide basic necessities such as socks t-shirts towels shaving necessities shampoo soap toothpaste and brush tablet and pen and a 10-ride bus pass. These backpacks enable someone to carry what they need with them.
New Haven now has a New Reentry Welcome Center at Project M.O.R.E. at 830 Grand Avenue. This one-stop-drop-off site for both men and women getting out of prison and returning to New Haven will be a resource center to bring together human service professionals with formerly incarcerated persons immediately after their release.
Project M.O.R.E will oversee the operation in addition to continuing providing the services they have offered the formerly incarcerated for 47 years. Reentry Welcome Center Director Keisha Gatison (above) said services will include housing and employment help food resources treatment for substance use disorders mental health and medical treatment and job placement.
The center is looking for more organization partnerships community volunteers and employers to help. Volunteers will be needed to offer educational services and trade skills to clients. “If the community’s talents are brought to help our clients we’ll be that much better” Gatison said. We have partnered with them to donate the hygiene back packs for men and duffel bags for women coming home. Project Fresh Start Director Carlos Sosa-Lombardo began developing this initiative for New Haven in 2018 after visiting Hartford’s Reentry Welcome Center run by Community Partners in Action who we also support financially and with hygiene bags.
The blessing of backpacks will be on Sunday June 6th so the three previous Sundays donations will be accepted. Since we are still managing safe contact with Covid restrictions the best way to donate this time will be through a check for the Items which the Prison Reentry Committee will purchase. A 10 ride bus pass is $15.75. A backpack is $10- $15.00. The contents of a bag amount to around $35 per bag. Checks can be made payable to First Congregational Church with "Prison Ministry backpack donation" on the memo line. Thank you for your generosity and commitment to this ministry.
The Rev. Dr. Sandra Wiens, Prison Ministry Coordinator