The 70×7 Life Recovery-Grand Rapids Program Center remained consistently busy during the Third Quarter 2019 with client intakes, “Changes” Job Readiness Life Skills Training, and our on-going programing. Agencies and probation & parole offices are regularly referring clients to our program as well as area churches or through word-of-mouth referrals.
Our 70×7 Life Recovery – Restorative Hope (formerly Healing Communities-Stations of Hope) program is well received in the community. We have been meeting with many non-profits, government agencies, churches, and other community partners to let others know of our work and to enhance our programing. We are perpetually striving to grow our programs and improve our services; we consistently challenge ourselves to seek new ways to do this.
Programs 70×7 offers include:
- Case management and mentoring providing support and resources necessary to help each participant achieve stability and independence.
- Support services such as clothing, hygiene kits, and transportation help (bus passes, bicycles) continue to be offered to those in need. Most recently we have begun working with local doctors on a partnership providing free facial tattoo removals to for participants. We are working with a local community partner on housing for select participants with some of the greatest challenges.
- “Change,” our job readiness and life skills training class prepares participants for landing and keeping a good job with a local business partner. “Change” meets for eight days over two weeks in conjunction with Serving Together.
- Serving Together has program participants volunteer at partner churches and then evaluated by mentors for timeliness, attitude, work ethic, etc. Participants do a Serving Together on Wednesday mornings at Calvary Church followed by lunch and afternoon classes at that same location. On Thursday mornings, participants do Serving Together at First Missionary Baptist Church and enjoy lunch with this small, vibrant, urban congregation before returning to our offices for afternoon classes.
- New Day Staffing is our in-house job placement agency that works with “Change” graduates to help them find jobs with employer partners who will welcome and work with those with past convictions.
- The Take Charge program, a 12-week life skills and support group for women, started its Fall session in September and runs through November. Women in this group find support and hold each other accountable for making positive changes. Participants are grateful for the warm and welcoming atmosphere and the opportunity to share and encourage each other on what has been for many a difficult journey and then to learn from the speakers and topics which are new and varied each class cycle.
- Our Reentry Networking Lunches are hosted monthly at Oakdale Park CRC and facilitates a positive social environment and a welcoming church space for returning citizens. Both agency workers and returning citizens have told 70×7 staff how much they appreciate this opportunity to network and enjoy a meal together. At each lunch, we have a social service agency representative or community partner share about the work they are doing to benefit those we serve. Volunteers from Oakdale Park CRC and First Missionary Baptist Church help prepare and serve food.
- Stronger Together – Family Support Services began in February 2019. This group meets twice a month and provides an opportunity for the families and loved ones of those incarcerated to find a place of emotional support, education and connection. Feedback from participants has been very positive and encouraging. We hope to see continued growth and to expand by adding childcare during meetings in the short term. We have had a lot of interest in this group from families, courts, probation & parole officers and other agencies as this is a need in our community that has not been met.
- 70×7 Life Recovery – Restorative Hope began in April 2019. Church partners work with 70×7 Life Recovery to safely welcome and minister to those returning to the community and to church following incarceration. Mentor training, “Cards for Prisoners” letter writing program, church safety and boundary policy planning are a few of the options available to equip churches as they work to help returning citizens.
- Seven cohorts of the Change Class (Change Your Story, Change Your Life!) graduated between July – September. Each class meets for two weeks, Monday – Thursday for 3 hours with additional time requirements for resume preparation, mock interviews and job readiness assessments (Serving Together). Upon graduation, participants are assisted with employment and mentoring. Classes are held consecutively. Community partners including Friend of the Court, Wyoming PD, business partners and other successful Change graduates make presentations to classes to encourage participants, network and answer questions as they work to successfully reenter the community.
During the third quarter, graduates of the Changes Class moved into the employment sector utilizing our in-house staffing agency, New Day Staffing (NDS). Participants who graduate and move into the employment phase typically find job placements quickly. Several graduates from previous Cohorts moved from temporary trial periods with NDS to direct hire full time employment during this quarter. Making the transition to direct hire is a source of great pride for participants.
We recently received this note from Calvary Church who hosts a Serving Together class:
“I wanted to tell you I had the privilege of working with three of your group yesterday and again today. They did a great job and were a pleasure to work with. . . Thanks so much!”
Outreach and Capacity Building
70×7 partners with several community stakeholders who take part in our Changes class workshops. Staff also goes into the community giving presentations on the services we offer to other social service and government agencies as well as to potential employers and community partners.
The Banner Article: Churches Offer ‘Supporting Hand’ for Life Recovery Ministry
Submitted by Cheryl Wyma