Meeting of the Bronx Re-Entry Working Group

The Bronx Reentry Working Group had a meeting on Thursday, November 29. We received an update about the newly formed Bronx  Reentry Task Force by Christopher McLaughlin, who is the Task Force's Coordinator. He reported that the Task Force will focus on the needs of those returning citizens who have been determined to be at a high risk of recidivism. The Task Force will provide its clients with targeted case management, programming and service referrals, while working closely with clients' parole officers. The Task Force recently received its first client and everyone is looking forward to getting started. 

Pamela Valera, co-chair of the Bronx Re-Entry Working Group and Task Force, and I spoke at the meeting about a change in the structure of the Working Group. The Task Force will provide a meeting/planning place for service providers, as the Working Group has done, and the Working Group will now act solely as a support group for reentering citizens. The Working Group meetings, which will increase to twice monthly, will provide a safe space to talk about feelings, concerns, share past experiences and build skills to improve social supports. 

We shared two ideas for the Task Force. One idea is to provide a five-week mental health class to returning citizens. The class will be organized by Nakul, a Columbia University student, and will be implemented as a pilot program in January 2013. The second idea is to structure the Working Group as a support group for returning citizens only, and will not be open to service providers. Gary Grand and I discussed our plan for this group, which includes creating steps to serve as goals as clients work on their careers, relationships, and healthy lifestyles. The group suggested utilizing the sponsorship model to help alleviate clients' stress, anxieties and negative emotions. 

The Working Group is going to have a planning meeting at Bronx Community solutions on December 17th, at 12:30pm. In its new structure as a support group, the Bronx Re-Entry Working Group will be officially launched in January 2013.

- Ramon Semorile, Community Service Crew Supervisor for Bronx Community Solutions