From The ODA Blog
Tags: social change, The Church at Covenant Park, workforce development, cost of incarceration, COVID success, ex-offenders, Exoffender reentry, GOCCP, Governor Hogan, Howard County Department of Corrections, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, Mass Incarceration; Poverty; Howard County, Recidivism
Within the first 30 days of the COVID-19 pandemic, over 70% of community-based reentry programs were reporting significant reductions in services. According to the Council of Governments Justice Center (4/22/20), "About 45 percent of respondents say they face challenges with maintaining cash flow and nearly half of those surveyed are concerned about their ability to keep their doors open. Nearly one in five organizations report they have already laid off workers."
Thanks to the determined leadership of our Director of Client Services, Beth Smith, we never blinked. A 10-year veteran of Open Door America, Beth knew we had a secret weapon. We had already gone virtual when we gave up costly bricks-and-mortar in 2015. We were already seeing clients at coffee shops and in church fellowship halls. We knew how to do this! And, when we discovered ZOOM, we had the final piece in place.
In our partnership with the Howard County (MD) Department of Corrections, we began the year with 17 clients in various stages of reentry. Some were already living in the community; some were still in work-release status. While a few have fallen away, most have chosen to remain in the program. Case management and mentoring continues every day. The jobs will start coming back. Change will occur.
When we added new case manager Mariah Gilmore (seen above conducting a socially-distanced home visit with Sydney and Frank) -- a recent criminal justice graduate from the University of Baltimore -- we greatly expanded our capability with some of the Governor's smart dollars. Together, Beth and Mariah are proving that grit and determination, combined with a whole lot of heart and energy, can overcome a pandemic. This is what positive social change looks like.
Open Door America could not be prouder! Stay tuned.
Open Door Baltimore, a nonprofit that fights poverty by working with businesses to provide living-wage jobs, is expanding beyond the beltway. To better reflect the organization’s larger mission, the board of directors recently approved a new identity and logo.Read More