AUTHOR: Cathy Brown
Since 1995 CentrePeace has been in the “second chances” business. Many recognize CentrePeace as a resale shop specializing in furniture, home goods and more, providing items a second chance and avoiding disposal in a landfill. In truth, we specialize in second chances for people....primarily, returning citizens.
The mission of CentrePeace is to identify and manage barriers that prevent incarcerated individuals from successfully reentering our community. Teaching various job skills is just one way we achieve our mission. Donated items are used to teach furniture repair and restoration, light electrical, upcycling and repurposing of furniture and items. Working shoulder to shoulder with our trainees from the Centre County Correctional Facility (CCCF), we are teaching social and communication skills. In today’s world where there is a shortage of workers but still a reluctance to hire someone recently released, individuals may take the skills learned at CentrePeace and begin earning money upon release, should they choose. CentrePeace may also be used as a job reference for other employment opportunities.
CentrePeace is in the process of kicking off a Reentry Support Group for returning citizens. The focus of this group is connection with others in similar situations, as well as informational and educational. In August, CentrePeace’s Support Group for Friends and Family will begin, offering connection, conversation and support to those with incarcerated loved ones. CentrePeace has partnered with CCCF and Leadership Centre County (LCC), whose mission is to increase the community’s pool of servant leaders. Key benchmarks from the LCC classes are being used to create a Leadership Reentry program for soon to be released individuals. The goal is to encourage reconnection to our community rather than living on the outside. Recently, CentrePeace partnered with Center for Alternatives in Community Justice on Centre County Community Conferencing. The Reentry component of this program works to establish broken ties to family, friends and others who may serve as a support system for the returning citizen.
The long term goal for CentrePeace is to address the shortage of housing for returning citizens and creating more educational opportunities. Many times, an individual without an approved living arrangement may need to remain longer in the correctional facility until they have an approved plan. Statistics show that an individual who continues their education is 75% more likely to not reoffend and return to prison. Someday in the future, CentrePeace would love to build a facility addressing the needs of both areas.
It is a privilege to be able to offer second chances to individuals in need. We welcome any and all who would like to join us! For more information about CentrePeace or to become involved as a volunteer, please contact Cathy Brown at 353-0981 or email email@example.com.