Riverside House is a nonprofit organization that guides men and women convicted of crimes into leading positive and productive lives through a non-denominational spiritual approach. One of the organization’s services is its residential reentry program. Under this program, clients live at Riverside House and participate in personalized curriculums that emphasize life issues such as employment, life skills, substance abuse counseling, and family reunification.
We are always overjoyed when our clients report that they have experienced great blessings as a result of being a part of our programs. One perfect example is *John. John has been in our residential reentry program for five months. He recently spoke with one of our team members about his positive experiences with his case manager and how she is making an impact on his life.
For starters, he appreciates that the case manager has displayed great listening skills and shows a genuine interest in wanting to help him overcome all obstacles. One area that John struggled with in particular was obtaining employment since coming out of Federal Prison. Initially, he was very frustrated and hated that he could not go to work. There were several barriers that he had to overcome and his case manager patiently assisted until he was able to become employable. He was also provided with clothes, which is something that John was really excited about. This one area alone has made a great impact on his life making him very grateful to Riverside House and his amazing case manager. If he could give advice to any one coming to Riverside House, John said he would tell them, “Just do the right thing, and everything will be all right.”
When new clients first enter Riverside House it’s a pretty big adjustment from life as they know it. Before *Glenda came to Riverside House, she was nervous. Many of the people she socialized with told her horror stories about halfway houses and residential reentry programs. After only a month at Riverside House, Glenda says those people couldn’t have been more wrong. The staff and the process of Riverside House’s reentry program really impressed her. She was delighted to be treated equal and as an important individual.
Among the experiences that have made the greatest impact on her since being at Riverside House, Glenda share the story of when she had an emergency situation with her mother. She wasn’t sure if she would be allowed to see her. However, she decided to go and ask her case manager in faith and to her surprise she was given permission to go see her mother. After that, she was very thankful and truly flabbergasted by the understanding of the staff. Among the most important lessons, Glenda really believes Riverside House has helped her to realize that she has to have faith in God, become independent, and to say “no” to doing the wrong things.
Clients like John and Glenda are perfect examples of how a second chance is possible, even when someone has been stigmatized by society. You just have to surround yourself with positive people who believe in you and be willing to do the work to make real changes in your life. Just like John said, if you do that, everything will be all right.
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the individual.