A note received from a participant:
“Thank you dearly for this opportunity for advancement. Being involved with 70×7 far exceeded my expectations. By staying open minded and willing to remain teachable, I’ve been able to see that the roots of this organization and me being directed to take part have all been God’s will. I have been inspired, enthused and motivated to continue pursuing an active place in society as a productive member regardless of my past. Thank you!”
WOOD-TV8 evening news, Reporter Teresa Weakly aired a piece titled “Released and Rejected: How the Challenges After Prison Have Changed.” The video features Michael Norwood who participated in 70×7’s Changes class and got a job through 70×7’s New Day Staffing agency. It also shares information on the CLEAR program (with whom we partner), housing issues, and 70×7 Life Recovery. (Grand Rapids Executive Director, Ben Rosa, can be seen sharing information at about 4:00 minutes into the piece).
70×7 Life Recovery-Grand Rapids Program Center’s Third Quarter 2020 has, like Second Quarter, forced unforeseen changes and adjustments due to the COVID-19 health crisis. Our offices were closed for most of March – May; we reopened to clients on June 1. Change classes are again offered at our office but with a smaller participant cap and a modified Serving Together program. New Day Staffing has been working to employ graduates with our employer partners. Stronger Together Family Support Group and Take Charge Life Skills and Support group for women have been meeting via Zoom or outdoors as weather permitted. Our Church Engagement Manager, Jonathan DePoy, has been connecting with churches for 70×7 Life Recovery – Restorative Hope program. For the health and safety of all participants, our Reentry Networking Lunches are on hold until a safer stage has been achieved locally for large group gatherings.
We have continued to see lower than anticipated numbers through the 3rd quarter, due in part to the staggered return to work start dates for many of our community partners and referral sources. Due to stimulus monies and high work demand, we have had fewer employment requests and support service calls. Housing inquiries continue to be high. Earlier this year, we were in the process of launching our new Housing Initiative with community partners; we currently have three homes in place providing seven rooms and are working again to grow this program; housing is a difficult challenge and it became even more critical during the COVID-19 crisis. Recent discussions with potential new community partners on housing are promising. We are perpetually striving to grow our programs and improve our services; we consistently challenge ourselves to seek new ways to do this.
Outreach and Capacity Building
After months of hard work and redesign, our website was relaunched in May 2020: www.70x7liferecovery.org. This website also features our new 70×7 Life Recovery logo. This website relaunch proved to be very timely and was utilized extensively for our first ever VIRTUAL Fall Fundraiser and Silent Auction on October 15, 2020. Our Master of Ceremonies was Janice Allen, Fox 17 New Anchor and our event highlighted past and present program participants who each shared their own stories of their experience working with 70×7 Life Recovery. An online Silent Auction was also highlighted with beautiful items from generous local businesses and donors. We were very pleased with the good response we had to this evening. The event was recorded and highlights can be viewed on our website.
Some positive stories and notes from 2020:
Jim mentioned when he first came to 70×7 that Crossroads Prison Ministry played a part in the changes he had started making in his life while in prison. He had a humble heart and a great attitude as he participated in and graduated from our Changes class. When he got his new job through New Day Staffing, we matched him with a 70×7 mentor. We learned the mentor we matched with Jim had also been part of Jim’s Crossroads team! Jim is still working full-time, moved into his own apartment, just got married, and regularly gives back by doing things like donating a bike and bringing food to the Change class where he shares his experience and hope with new participants.
Robert participated in Changes this summer. When he finished, however, he wasn’t ready to completely give up his past habits and wanted to do things his own way. Six weeks later, Robert returned to 70×7, a place he felt safe and understood. He was vulnerable and broken, and knew he needed to finally make real changes. That day he opened his bag, took out his drug paraphernalia, broke it and threw it out. He’s been coming now to group mentoring. Although his journey has been slower than some, despite setbacks, he’s going forward and asking for accountability.
A note received from a participant: “Thank you dearly for this opportunity for advancement. Being involved with 70×7 far exceeded my expectations. By staying open minded and willing to remain teachable, I’ve been able to see that the roots of this organization and me being directed to take part have all been God’s will. I have been inspired, enthused and motivated to continue pursuing an active place in society as a productive member regardless of my past. Thank you!”
Patricia Ansari, who participated in the Take Charge group years ago, published a book about her story, “Led Astray: A Single Mother’s Journey from Failure to Faith.” She brought other women to the group this summer, and “gave back” by sharing how faith in Jesus Christ and support from Take Charge and other sources helped her heal from abuse, make healthier decisions and grow into her purpose.
“N.” had been separated from her daughter while she was in prison for 6 years; last year after her release they had begun to have visits and get to know each other. During a Take Charge meeting, N. got a call that her daughter was going to be placed back in her care. She was excited but also very nervous. Two other participants reassured her that she could succeed because they had made it through something similar. Today she and her daughter are doing well together!
The Stronger Together Family Support Group provided support and encouragement to two mothers this summer before and after their young adult sons returned to their homes after years of incarceration. After their release, both young men graduated from the Change class and are now employed; the staff at 70×7 coached them through several challenges during that process so that their positive movement was not derailed!