A Worthwhile Retreat

august 2017. from my Facebook posts:

years of attending useless 'retreats' for the start of school but today's was anything but. our large faculty and staff was broken down into small groups and sent out to various non-profits for a day of service. i went to angela house, a place where women newly released from prison/jail can come to live and learn how to be productive. we cleaned some unused rooms and made lunch for the residents. lots of impressive stories and stats but the best was this: for women who stay there for four months or longer the recidivism rate is 13%, compared to 57% in traditional halfway houses, and that's on $23 a day per person, mental health issues included, compared to $35 a person per day in traditional settings, excluding those with mental health issues. (those may cost the taxpayer all the way up to $160 a day.) all sorts of resources have been corralled from the community to teach the women how to be good citizens, workers, mothers, etc. - including one volunteer group who waits all day at the bus station when an inmate is scheduled to be released, so they can meet her personally, give her a sandwich and drive her to angela house. five minutes is all it takes to suck a person back into the life they left and predators at the bus station can spot a new release in a second. a nun, who is a former police officer/parole officer/social worker started this place and runs it, and she is a firecracker. her guiding principle is treat a person with respect and dignity and you'll get that back at you in spades. too much to tell here but suffice it to say i am inspired. hard problems can be solved. you just need experience, common sense, empathy and a calling. oh, and you probably need a nun...