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Class Teaches Skills for Employment to Those on Parole

            Over the years, several hundred individuals previously incarcerated in New York State prisons have come to Community Missions through the Parole Re-Entry program. In 2013 alone, the program helped a total of 282 individuals facing challenges common to those on parole, including issues with mental health and substance abuse and a lack of housing, work history, and vocational training. The primary goal of the Parole Re-Entry program, then, is to assist with obtaining housing, employment, and other services necessary for individuals to successfully transition back into the community.

For the past three years, Community Missions has partnered with Niagara County Community College to offer a weekly non-credit course for those in the Parole Re-Entry program. The course, called Basics for Vocational Preparation, is instructed by volunteers and primarily covers skills necessary for obtaining and maintaining employment.

Much of the time, the course will include with practice questions on grammar and math, which can prove useful in taking GED tests, returning to school, or in work settings. Attendees sometimes engage in mock job interviews that help them prepare for questions they may be asked when they seek employment and review factors in keeping a job, such as dressing appropriately and interacting with co-workers and supervisors.

Although employment is the focus of the course, other themes often arise. These include navigating the college application process or tobacco cessation. Guest speakers will sometimes attend to discuss topics ranging from community service and volunteerism to race and social mobility. It is also a place where individuals can come together to discuss personal challenges in their own lives, such as facing stigma after incarceration and reuniting with their families.

The instructors of the course are always enthralled to hear the success stories of those who have excelled after leaving the Parole Re-Entry program and the course. Many individuals have been successful in being hired and keeping their jobs and others have benefited from being given resources to regain their independence and further their education as they are reintegrated into the community.

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By The Numbers...

In 2016, Community Missions provided:

11,104 nights of shelter

89,366 meals

6,744 individuals with clothing

2,295 care days in Youth Services

46,888 care days in Recovery Services

73,994 care days in Housing Services

182 opportunities for Faith Development


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