Although client contacts and new intakes have been lower for 2020 compared to a non-pandemic year, we are beginning to see in increase again in participants. Those coming to Change class have been especially committed and sharing word-of-mouth referrals to others. Housing inquiries continue to be high. Earlier this year, we launched our Housing Initiative. This has changed from our initial vision and is still in the growth process; we currently have the potential to place participants in 12 rooms in three houses and are working to grow this program; affordable housing is a difficult and fills quickly. 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
- In October 2020, WOOD-TV8 evening news aired a piece titled “Released and Rejected: How the Challenges After Prison Have Changed.” The video features Michael N. who participated in 70×7’s Changes class and got a job through New Day Staffing. It also shares information on the CLEAR program, housing issues, and 70×7 Life Recovery. Link:https://www.woodtv.com/news/
michigan/released-and- rejected-how-the-challenges- after-prison-have-changed/
- 70×7 was thrilled to be featured on the 10:00pm FOX 17 Newscast on Sunday, December 13, 2020. News anchor, Janice Allen (who was our MC for our Annual Fundraiser in October), interviewed 70×7 graduate, Miguel G., a single father raising 4 teen daughters. Ben Rosa does a great job of explaining our programing during the interview and Pastor Kathy Chambliss, of Together Church (formerly Kentwood Community Church-Wyoming Campus), where we are located, was also interviewed. A link at the end of the article brings you directly to the 70×7 webpage. We are thrilled to have such great publicity about the work 70×7 is doing in the community! Link: https://www.fox17online.com/
news/local-news/70×7-together- church-team-up-to-help- families-of-ex-offenders-this- holiday-season
Some positive stories and notes from 2020:
- Shelby was a Take Charge participant who was able to grow from what she learned there. She recently shared:
“I want you to know the impact the program is making, and how amazing it’s been for me. At a time I needed support and understanding, it was a blessing to be placed somewhere I could feel safe to speak openly and hear others’ stories. Living alone, and struggling with my history was very isolating and these women changed my life. I love the open space for people to grow, learn and re-love themselves against circumstance. Everything has changed so much for me these past few years and I’ve grown so in touch with myself. Learning how to forgive myself and others every step of the way! That’s something I can say is partially in thanks to you and this group!”
- In response to a gift card donated at Christmas, one participant wrote, “Thank you so much! I teared up a bit when I saw it (gift card) I have loved being in the Take Charge group. I always feel inspired to do better when we finish the meetings. I appreciate the kindness and generosity.”
- From a Stronger Together support group participant who received a donated Starbucks gift card at Christmas: “Thanks for the card. I appreciate the prayers. I hope the best for all of you. I’d love to see you all again soon; until then I look forward to hearing from you in the next year. My son calls me and says he’s doing ok doing his time. I still pray for good (in this) time – he has five years and ten months to go yet.”
- From a donor: “Thanks for the way you remind each of us to step up and minister to the whole community – not just those we feel deserve it. You do such a great job of magnifying Christ in a world that desperately needs this Light. We appreciate the opportunity you give us to walk alongside you.”
- Juan graduated from our Changes program in January 2020. He is doing well and has since moved closer to family in East Michigan. Before he left, he had purchased $40 on a reusable The Rapid bus pass he no longer needed. He contacted us wanting to pay it forward. He wrote, “I knew someone will be thankful to receive this card, as I was thankful and blessed to have met you all and I know that that experience really helped me out in my transitioning. Thank you all for everything.”
Ministry report submitted by Cheryl Wyma.