Developed in 2003 MUM's Circle of Support program utilizes groups of four to six community volunteers, recruited, screened and trained by MUM, to meet weekly with someone newly released from prison. The person newly released, or “Core Circle Member” finds a new community, a support network to welcome him or her home. The Circle of Support offers a respectful, positive and supportive environment for the Core Team Member as they adjust to the demands and challenges of everyday life on the outside. The Circles of Support Program is effective because it provides a space for the Core Team Member to be heard, to be encouraged and to be respected.
The following is what one Core Member had to say about his experience with his experience in a Circle of Support:
“I’ve enjoyed working with MUM because they’ve helped me to enroll in finance and employability classes which has been truly helpful being that I’ve never worked or had to pay my own bills. I work with MUM in a few other areas as well, such as advice in healthy relationships of any kind, any depressing thoughts and on how to deal with them… I meet with MUM every week and we go over whatever pressing thoughts or issues I have had that week which helps me to keep myself in check…I feel that they are extraordinary people for trying to help to give those of us that others call monsters a second chance at life and not just a life but a meaningful life. There are some who don’t get that second chance. I wake up every morning and give praise to my Father that I have people in my corner that are willing to take the time to help and work with me on my day to day issues. So to MUM, thanks.”
To refer someone for a Circle of Support or if you are interested in becoming a Circles of Support volunteer, please contact John Givens, Circle of Support Coordinator at email@example.com, or (608)256-0906.
MUM’s Journey Home is a reintegration initiative of the United Way of Dane County. The program is designed to build a network of services to immediately assist individuals returning to the community from prison.
Re-entering the community after prison can be challenging and frustrating. Access to housing and employment is often limited due to a conviction record. The goals of the Journey Home Program are to:
Individuals who wish to participate in the program work with our Resource Specialists in the areas of Residence, Employment, Support and Treatment (REST). Additionally we assist in linking individuals with educational and vocational opportunities and assist program participants with transportation.
Monthly Service Fairs welcome newly released individuals back to the community while offering a one stop shop to learn about resources within Dane County. Service providers, landlords, employers and community members attend the event.
For more information about the Journey Home or to refer someone to the program contact Madison-area Urban Ministry at 608-256-0906.
The Phoenix Initiative
The Phoenix Initiative provides peer support and assistance for men and women returning to the community from prison. The initiative focuses on preparing for and finding housing, employment, support and treatment. After participating in the core program components members move into the Alumni Group. Members of the Alumni Group assist MUM in our community education and advocacy efforts related to criminal justice system reform and re-entry issues. Members of the Alumni Group help mentor other newly released individuals in their return to the community.
The Phoenix Initiative meets Thursday evenings, 5:00 – 6:30 at MUM, 2300 S. Park St., Suite 2022, Madison, WI. 53713
A Madison-Area Urban Ministry (MUM) program
• Provides medical respite care to families who are homeless and have an immediate family member in need of ongoing medical recovery.
• Respite will be provided for up to 28 days
• Follow-up includes, medical care and case management in obtaining of transitional housing.
• Clients will be identified as needing recuperative care by discharging hospitals.
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Madison-area Urban Ministry has three programs specifically designed to address the unique needs and concerns of children who have with a parent in jail, prison or awaiting sentencing. The programs are: Mentoring, Family and Reading Connections. Children who have with a parent in jail, prison or awaiting sentencing are often among the most vulnerable in our community. Not only have these children experienced the loss of a parent through incarceration, they experience disruption in their living situation and they worry about their parent. MUM’s Mentoring Connections, Family Connections and Reading Connections are all designed to support children during a parent’s incarceration.
Family Connections helps keep the critical parent-child connection strong by providing regularly scheduled visits between incarcerated mothers and their children. We provide safe round-trip bus transportation for the children (and caregivers) to the facility, recruit, screen and train volunteers to supervise the trip, and we work closely with the WI Department of Corrections officials and social workers to ensure that the visits are mutually positive experiences.
Reading Connections utilizes volunteers to a record mothers reading books on DVD to their children. The DVD, book and a note from mom are then sent to the child(ren). Reading Connections offers moms whose children reside too far away for visits with the opportunity to connect with their children.
Ruth Poochigian is the Coordinator for Family and Reading Connections, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mentoring Connections matches caring adult volunteers with children who have an incarcerated parent. Mentoring Connections uses evidence based practices, including Positive Youth Development to provide community based one-to-one mentoring specifically designed to address the unique challenges facing children of incarcerated parents.
Malik is 8 years old and already at risk. His parents have been in and out of prison his entire life. He is fortunate to live with family members who love him. But, with parents in prison he stands a greater than normal chance of following in their footsteps. He needed extra attention from another caring adult to send the message that he is important and valued. Malik’s aunt applied to Mentoring Connections. That’s where Josh enters into Malik’s story. Josh is Malik’s mentor, and they have made a difference in each others lives. They get together once a week to play at the park, go to the library, throw the football around, and sometimes Josh goes to watch Malik play soccer. Those are the moments, according to his aunt, that Malik’s face lights up. Those are the moments, according to research, that will help Malik avoid the criminal justice system and put him on a path to success.
Children eligible to receive a mentor must be 4-17 years old, reside in Dane County, and have a parent who is presently incarcerated either in prison or jail.
Volunteers must be 21 years old, preferably with access to a vehicle, pass a criminal background check and attend mandatory trainings.
MUM’s Re-entry Simulations are conducted in various Wisconsin prisons, always with the goal of helping to prepare inmates for their release. In these simulations the participants have a dress rehearsal, achieving tasks they have identified for themselves as necessary for successful re-entry. The program also offers an opportunity for participants to meet MUM’s re-entry staff and to learn more about resources in the community to which they will be released.
For more information about simulations or to plan one for your faith community or organization or to volunteer contact Jackie Austin at email@example.com (608)256-0906.