NRCA’s Virginia CARES program is a community-based effort to assist individuals returning from jail or prison. Services include emergency aid (food, clothing, shelter, and transportation), job readiness instruction, employment search, lifeskills education, and support groups. Through linkages with community resources, Virginia CARES provides opportunities for returning citizens to become self-reliant, law-abiding, and taxpaying members of society. The program reduces recidivism by helping formerly incarcerated individuals obtain the skills and support they need to reintegrate into their home communities. NRCA’s Virginia CARES is sub contractor of Virginia CARES, Inc. NRCA provided 6 pre-releases and 94 newly released ex-offenders with assistance and support to promote a successful transition from prison or jail to the community. ■ ■ ■ ■ J had been in Dillwyn Correctional for 2 years and had no place to live. Thankfully, the New River Valley Reentry Council and District 28 Probation and Parole office were able to place him in their transitional house. J came out with very few belongings and absolutely no support and all of this during a Pandemic. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, participants had to be more self motivated and self-sufficient than ever before. Staff were able to quickly pick up and deliver clothing and a cell phone to J. A cell phone may seem trivial but during the pandemic it was the only way for staff to successfully work with clients considering the inability to meet clients face to face. Staff began supporting J daily via phone calls providing education and support designed to improve interview skills, and case management services to ensure a successful transition. J never missed a beat and was goal-oriented from the moment he was released. He began working with the Employment Specialist who helped connect him with local staffing agencies with employment opportunities within walking distance of his transitional home. Within 2 weeks of release J began working at a local factory. J would take the bus to work and walk or ride a battery-operated scooter through rain and even snow for his 3rd shift position. Eight months later, J has not only maintained a job but has been promoted to supervisor and received a raise. Thanks to “Manna House,” J has obtained his own apartment. J continues to give back to the community by serving as a mentor to the men currently residing at the Manna House. He attends monthly stakeholder meetings and monthly potluck dinners the NRV Reentry Council holds for residents. The NRCA Virginia CARES relationship with the District 28 Probation office, along with many other community partnerships make success stories like J’s possible.
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