Returning Restored: Southcentral Foundation’s Community of Re-entry Support
Today, Southcentral Foundation is providing a network of community and support around inmates in Alaska and those re-entering society. Through Family Wellness Warriors Initiative’s partnership with Transformational Living Community and Native Men’s Wellness Program, many incarcerated people and those in transition are finding hope and making lasting change.
TLC is a 12-month faith-based program co-run by SCF and Alaska Correctional Ministries. It provides a therapeutic community that creates a safe and accountable space for inmates to develop healthy coping and relationship skills. While in TLC, inmates participate in Arrigah House, a week-long Beauty for Ashes intensive training led by FWWI. The training opens the door for inmates to share their stories, heal, and learn new ways of being in relationship.
“Recidivism rates in Alaska are 66 percent, while our recidivism rate among TLC graduates is 33 percent. The work we are doing in partnership is reducing recidivism by half,” shared FWWI Director Bobbi Outten. “The most impact we are seeing is not about recidivism rates — it’s about them being healthy in community. They are returning restored to their families.”
FWWI Learning and Development Specialist Robert Roehl serves as chaplain of the TLC program at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center. In his role, Roehl focuses on the change in inmates’ lives accomplished through intervention and grace in a healthy and spiritually centered environment. He is witness to transformation from destructive, criminal behaviors to healthy lifestyles and relationships. One inmate shared, “Prison is not the place to be vulnerable. In prison you need to be tough and ready to defend yourself. For the first time, I shared my story and actually cried, and I was okay.” Reflecting on the process Roehl said, “With the new awareness that each person has a story, whether they are incarcerated or not, I see a difference in their faces.”
Not only does FWWI partner in the work of re-entry, but SCF’s Native Men’s Wellness Program works toward wellness, transitional support, and job skills training among Alaska Native and American Indian men. Chet Adkins, a NMWP Wellness Associate, completed the NMWP program in 2014. During his 28 years of incarceration, Adkins completed the TLC program and began mentoring other men in recovery. Upon release, he found himself in a daunting and unfamiliar world. Without any support, Adkins believed that his only path was to return to prison. Fortunately Adkins’ path led him to meet a NMWP employee.
“That was my first experience with someone who met me where I was at, and helped me without putting preconditions on me.” Adkins was hired as an intern, was placed at FWWI, and attended the Beauty for Ashes training. “BFA gave me a place where I could experience my fears and anxieties without being judged; it allowed me to examine why I did some of the things I did and figure out how to overcome them.” Today, Adkins gives back by mentoring other men within NMWP.
Whether it is working for wellness within the correctional system through partnering with TLC and Alaska Correctional Ministries or with customer-owners through FWWI’s Beauty for Ashes and learning circles and the NMWP, SCF is actively creating opportunities for hope and change. Director Bobbi Outten sums it up, “If there’s one thing people walk away with, it’s hope for restoration and belief that they can live differently. In 15 years with these programs, I have learned that so many of the men and women serving time are just people who made a bad decision, and so many of them are just like me. They deserve hope, and they deserve a second chance.” SCF is helping create that second chance.