In April of this year, we started a Life Skills’ class. I’m very excited about his class. It is totally volunteer and shows the participants that the community is interested in their success. These classes help them when they re-enter society. This program is 4 parts – and each part runs 2 – 3 months with 2 hour classes each Wednesday. We alternate Wednesday nights with the two groups and include a few Friday night sessions for extra work/films etc. Expectations are that they attend/participate in each class. They can miss one class without make-up time IF there is not a speaker and no mandatory participation – such as an interview.
Part#1 - Available Resources upon Release - This session deals with those things they will need after release. That includes, but it is not limited to: financial details, clothing, food, housing, initial job hunting, de-stress strategies, and volunteer opportunities. We also prepared a resource guide for each of them for the community they will be returning to. One of the main reasons that they find themselves back in jail is because it is difficult for them to fit back in with ‘normal’ life.
The fact that it is OK to ask for help is impressed upon them. We also stress the fact that this help is just available to get them on their feet and are not meant to be a lifelong crutch. We also offer them ideas of how to pay this back when it is possible. I feel it is important that they realize that they are responsible for their own lives.
Our five community volunteers for this were:
Lynn Shaw – Author and professor at Ivy Tech on stress relief techniques
Yvonne Baird – Farmer’s Bank – on savings, checking accounts and loans
Wayne Adams – Love, Inc. on available services and volunteer opportunities
Scott Mauch – Pastor about Habitat for Humanity (possibility of getting a house) and volunteer opportunities
Hilary Bercovitz – WorkOne – the job market –contacts and tips for job searching
- Goal setting
- Re-entry traps
Making long and short term goals
Creating a vision board
Part #2 - This section pulls in our former Job’s class material and we added career testing : it included writing a résumé, writing a cover letter, interviewing, learning how to dress, make contacts etc.
Our volunteers for this session were:Hilary Bercovitz from WorkOne
Two interviewers : Liz Graybiel – LHS teacher and Shirley Neal – Probation Dept. Instructor
PART #3 - We are currently in our 3rd session – Parenting. We use a combination of the Active Parenting, NOW curriculum along with Partners in Parenting (used at the Marion County Jail) and How to be a Responsible Mother/Father – an inmate’s workbook. This class tries to make sure that we reduce the number children who get caught up in this pattern of incarcerations.
Our volunteers this session include:
Amy Davis – IUMCH- on family meetings
Theresa Hanners – The Caring Center
Elizabeth Crouch – breast feeding and how to be a baby whisperer
Michele Thomas – Literacy for Children (this will include giving the parent a book for each of his children)
We currently have 13 guys and 9 girls in the class.
Part #4 – This session deals with anger management and driving out the demons. This session is currently under construction.
Since 2012 there were 30 total graduates from the first Life Skills Class. In 2013 15 males and 3 females totaling 18