In April we celebrated Second Chance Month. In recognition of it, we’d like to highlight
PEACE, Inc. Re-Entry program provides guidance for women and men who are entering back into the world after incarceration by helping them find employment and housing assistance, among other supports. As the Case Manager for the Re-Entry program, Michael Willacy assists clients with basic needs and helps them gain both the skills and confidence that they need to enter back into society. In his work, Michael has helped county residents obtain their birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and other important documents. He also helps clients with mock interviews and resume writing. When a client joins the program, Michael reviews an intake form and Re-Entry checklist with each client. The latter form is used to help Michael create a road map for the client; it sets the goals that the client wants to achieve in the program.
Michael knows firsthand the importance of such a program, as he himself has served time and has had his own run-ins with the law. It’s now his goal to show other men and women how to handle their issues without the use of violence. He wants to engage the community and help youth avoid the mistakes that he made. Passionate about the work, Michael began as a volunteer and landed the case manager position in September 2021. “I love my job!” Michael frequently says. He tries to remain consistent with his clients. Michael speaks about how sometimes his clients aren’t willing to commit to the process, but he never stops supporting his clients. He will call and text them, just to check in to make sure everything is going fine. In total, Michael has worked with 50 clients, the recidivism rate has remained low!
Michael’s Re-Entry work goes hand-in-hand with his involvement in the Fatherhood with PEACE program, which allows fathers from all walks of life to come together, connect, and share stories about their fatherhood journeys. “The wrap-around services, childcare, meals –makes it more appealing to families,” says Michael. In addition to childcare and meals, Head Start and Family Resource Center staff will pick up fathers to attend the sessions. The program meets once a week at PEACE, Inc. locations (Southside Family Resource Center and Sumner Head Start) to discuss conflict resolution, shaken baby syndrome, domestic violence, parenting styles and other important topics. Many of the sessions also have community organizations and speakers in attendance.
The connection between the Re-Entry and the Fatherhood with PEACE, programs is indisputable, as 60% of the men in the Fatherhood with PEACE come from the Re-Entry program. Having completed a second cohort, many of the dads from the first cohort help recruit a new group of Fathers to the program, and have become mentors. The fathers have made PEACE Inc.’s Southside Family Resource Center a second home; many of the dads enjoy coming to the center during “Coffee Hour” to continue the dialogue and to keep the connection strong after the sessions ended this past month. Michael stated, “The community center is for the community,” giving the Dads a safe space to gather and helping the program move in the right direction.
Michael sees both programs growing and expanding in the future. His work in the Re-Entry and Fatherhood with PEACE programs are truly a testament of hard work, commitment, and that it’s possible for anyone to have a second chance in society.