Our Soul Food project has been at the forefront of helping ex-offender women adopt healthy eating habits as part of their overall rehabilitation plan. Housed at the Women’s Resource Center, a critical strategy in this effort has been the training and leadership of participating women who have become project interns. For all of these women, economic stability is of paramount concern and the source of hope that their lives can be improved, that they can recover from substance abuse and past traumas, regain custody of their young children, and secure adequate housing. For these women economic stability stems from meaningful employment that ensures a living wage. It’s this vision that inspired us to launch a strategic planning effort to provide a roadmap that can help us accomplish this goal.
Together with the WRC partnership and others, we will ask the question, “How can we offer hope for a better future to women released from jail and prison?” Using this strengths-based approach we want to inspire ex-offender women with meaningful employment that provides a living wage to support themselves and their families, and lights a clear pathway for a better future. Over 100 women each month seek out services at the WRC, with an estimated 90% who are unemployed. The timing is critical to intervene in the women’s lives with integrated, gender-specific therapeutic services, vocational training and education.
We are also coordinating this new programming vision with the WRC’s physical space, including a kitchen upgrade that will allow our Soul Food project to take on a larger vocational role. Ultimately, the WRC facility will accommodate vocational training space, educational classrooms, and be a visually inviting and safe space that will be a model for the county.