The St. Vincent de Paul Re-entry Conference's mission statement is very simple: "We help people". We have recently established a Conference here in the Boise area to aid ex-offenders being released from the prison or jail system. Our volunteers help them work their way back into society and to become useful and contributing members. In the first eight months of aiding our clients, we have served 200 men & women. During this time, we paid over $8,400 in rent, $2,500 in bus fares and transportation, and issued over $9,200 in vouchers from our St. Vincent de Paul Thrift stores. Our Conference is non-profit. We have no salaries/stipends and limited administrative costs.
Our Re-entry Conference deals with a sad failing within the current justice system. The recidivism rate here in Idaho hovers near 67%. That is unacceptable to any society. Many of these are young, first time offenders who need help realigning their lives. Without help, encouragement and direction, many re-offend and return to the prison system. Repeat offenders only get more hardened, and rehabilitation becomes less probable.
We need to develop funding streams to keep our mission going forward. We have received donations and small grants. However, in our infancy, we are spending over $2,000 each month, mainly in rental & transportation support. We are also furnishing a lot of clothing, beds, bikes, food, furniture, and other items from our thrift stores. These donations do not diminish our cash flow, but do take funds from other ministries. Our Conference also provides medication assistance and referral to Easter Seals-Goodwill Working Solutions for employment / resume writing classes.
The inter-faith Conference is entirely volunteer-based. We have members who work for the prison system, people who have been incarcerated and succeeded in rehabilitating, people who have family members in the "system", and others who are empathetic to ex-offenders' needs. We are also joined by several other Christian church groups who believe in what we are trying to do. It is much too big of a task for the Catholic society to take on unassisted. The Southwest Idaho St. Vincent de Paul Council offers training to our volunteers. The history of The Society of St. Vincent de Paul and its home visit procedures are taught through the Ozanam participant guide. Our trained volunteers go in pairs to meet our clients and get to know more about their needs so we may provide the most helpful assistance that is within our current resources. We also refer them to other human services organizations throughout the valley.
Our clients, their families, and society as a whole benefit from our project. Our overall goal is to reduce recidivism. We look to assist them in healing fractured relationships with their loved ones. We work with them to be good parents so that their children will not shadow the same unhealthy lifestyle their parents pursued. The monies are not the only thing we offer to these men and women. Hope and the realization that someone cares is critical in this process. Hopelessness is the worst enemy that these folks have.
The Southwest Idaho St. Vincent de Paul Council office will continue to provide us with seed money and goodwill donations for our mission. Continued funding from grants, donations, churches, Christian based groups & fundraisers will continue to be the majority of our financial resources. We will continue outreach to Christian associates who share the same mission. Many of these groups consist of rehabilitated ex-offenders or families of those who are or have been incarcerated.
If interested in lending your services to assist men & women who are starting a new chapter & new challenges in their lives, please contact via email or phone for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org ; (208) 870-9598