A fresh start in all aspects of daily life is precisely what men and women hope for after incarceration.
Fresh Start Ministries (FSM) provides hope and holistic services to individuals during and after incarceration, with the goal of helping them successfully transition back into the community. FSM offers supportive, spiritual, and emotional care during incarceration, while its aftercare programs assist with employment, transportation, housing, and mentoring.
“Reentering citizens are often frowned upon and not given a chance to redeem themselves, '' says FSM board member Julie Palmer. “We believe that every human being is worthy of respect and should be given an opportunity to create a fulfilling life for themselves and their families.”
From its inception more than four decades ago, FSM has depended on the compassion of hundreds of volunteers. Volunteers visit inmates at the Linn County Jail and recently started visiting youth in the Juvenile Detention Center, as well. “Our community is only as strong as our least-empowered members,” says Palmer. “For reentering citizens, it’s important to create pathways to success through resources and support.”
This past September, FSM celebrated its partnership with the Sixth Judicial Department of Correctional Services with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, which the Economic Alliance assisted in organizing. This event helped to promote the nonprofit’s work with inmates and incarcerated youth in the region, and to spotlight its long history of caring.
One of FSM’s current challenges is a shortage of safe and affordable housing for former inmates who participate in its RISE (Reintegration Initiative for Safety and Empowerment) program. The nonprofit’s board members are hopeful that city leaders and property owners will create more housing options, and are ready to offer their advice and support to increase housing affordability and options.
This year, FSM opened a new office, which means more space for participants to access life-changing services. “We see our work as an investment in community safety,” says Palmer. “At FSM, we are committed to guiding the formerly incarcerated toward productive pathways.”
Fresh Start Ministries
PO Box 1322, Cedar Rapids, IA 52406
Ph: (319) 364-0420
Visit www.freshstartministriescr.com to donate or inquire about volunteer opportunities.