Goodwill West Texas is expanding employment services and programs for justice-involved individuals through its Reentry Point program.
Reentry Points’ mission is to equip individuals with the appropriate knowledge and guidance to help them achieve success after serving their sentence. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, approximately 60% of formerly incarcerated people struggle with unemployment.
Investing time, education and resources in our justice-involved neighbors is a proven strategy for breaking the cycle of recidivism, said Goodwill West Texas CEO Rick Waldraff. This program not only helps individuals re-acclimate to our community, but provides an opportunity to make our community safer and stronger.
Andre Gwinn Sr., re-entry program specialist, said that since its official launch in October 2023, 35 people have used the program. The long-term goal of the program is to train 100 people in the Big Country within the first six months of its duration. If successful, Goodwill plans to expand its operations to serve people affected by justice issues across 35 counties.
The program is funded through the sale of donated items at Goodwill West Texas retail stores, and registration is free for individuals.
Led by Gwinn, a former employment and resource specialist at the Abilene Career Center, the program is designed for people who have had a history of criminal justice, have recently been released from prison, or are currently incarcerated and are 3-6 months away from release.
There are several Texas Department of Criminal Justice Systems in West Texas, and we often see people who have recently been released from prison or who have had a history of impact on the justice system come through our Career Centers, Gwinn said. Our mission is to provide opportunities for people with barriers to employment, and the Reentry Point program allows us to better serve people with this particular barrier through education and training designed specifically with their experiences in mind.
Eligible individuals must meet these criteria to qualify for one of the two pathways provided.
Track 1 is for people recently released and involved in the justice system. This pathway is a 5-day course that provides job and life skills training and resources to help you pay for and improve your education. This program offers in-person classes at the Goodwills Career Center in Abilene, 2200 N 1street Street or on site with transitional housing facilities in the area.
Path 2 is intended for people staying in prisons. Participants will learn a Texas Department of Criminal Justice–approved curriculum designed to equip soon-to-be-released individuals with skills such as job skills training and financial planning to be successful upon release.
Gwinn said both curricula use classroom-style teaching and are proven tools in similar Goodwill Reentry programs throughout the state of Texas.
Interested individuals will be contacted by the Mission Services team within one to three business days after completing the general interest form on the website. There is no limit to the number of people applying to participate in the program.
For more information about the Reentry Point program or to fill out an interest form, visit goodwillwtx.org/reentry-point.
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