The Workforce Investment Board of Herkimer, Madison, and Oneida counties is 1 of 9 organizations to receive funding. Eyewitness News Reporter Rachel Polansky finds out how the people directly affected feel about this investment in reforms.
2 former offenders say the Re-Entry Program has turned their lives around - In fact, they don't know if they could have made it this far without the support of this program.
"This is the first time in my life that I can say I made a difference," says Leroy Brooks, former offender.
Brooks has been in and out of jail 5 times - he joined the Re-Entry program 8 months ago and he says this is the longest he's ever been out of prison.
"I'm used to coming home and if I'm home 30 days, that's a long time because I come right back into society, start with drugs, start the robberies, the burglaries - but when I come home this time, I had somebody to turn to which is Re-Entry," says Brooks.
The Re-Entry program provides services including mentoring, employment preparation, counseling, and assistance with parenting. The program's coordinator says it's a great opportunity to help ex-convicts.
"If we can change 1 life, and they can be employable and they can have a job, it's essential," says Dosrine Jenkins, Re-Entry Coordinator.
Jenkins says everyone needs a helping hand. Through this grant, the Re-Entry Program will be able to provide services that will not only change one's person's life, but will also provide former offenders the means to become productive, taxpaying citizens in our community.
"When you're trying to find a job, when you're trying to not just re-enter society but re-enter your family and re-enter own life, this program has helped me tremendously to do the things that I needed to do," says Donna Black, former offender.
"Everyone needs a second chance, yea some of them might have first, second, and third chance, but sometimes it takes a while for someone to really get it especially if they've been through trauma in their life. And it also makes someone employable so they can be taxpayers too," says Jenkins.
"I'm happy, about to start college, I'm free, I'm not going back, I'm happy," says Black.