RS EDEN Corrections Services Director Addresses Women and Reentry Challenges at Minnesota Department of Corrections Conference

On April 23, 2018, the Minnesota Department of Corrections Task Force on Justice Involved Women and Girlsheld their annual conference, sponsored in part by RS EDEN. This year’s conference focused on the disparate treatment of women and girls in the criminal justice system. Task Force members LuAnne Buck, Director of Corrections Services for RS EDEN, and Amber Jochem, Community Outreach Manager of Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, spoke about the challenges women face reentering the community from incarceration.

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Graduation Celebration at Portland Village

Light up the grill, pour the lemonade, and cut the cake…the Portland Village family housing community is celebrating graduations of all kinds. This year the community celebrated the accomplishments of 14 tenants—adults and children—who graduated from elementary to junior high, from junior high to high school, who completed drug court, and who received their GED. The Graduation Celebration is an annual event for tenants to socialize, celebrate goals, and simply enjoy a summer afternoon together with food and fun.

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The Lifers: Creating a Safe Space

As a former offender and convict, I know firsthand the challenges of reentry. While I served a relatively brief term (I was released at age 23), acclimating to "normal" society can be far more challenging for those reentering the community after decades of incarceration.

In response to the reentry needs of long-term offenders, in January 2013 I offered our space to a group of ex-offenders, all of whom had served a long period of incarceration for some type of homicide. We named this group the “Lifers” and the goal was to create an environment of mutual support. Participation was totally voluntary, with no contractual arrangement with the Department of Corrections. My role as facilitator was essentially to buy the pizza and get out of the way, offering limited input and direction, while allowing the group to take whatever direction the they would choose.

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Fresh Faces at Fresh Grounds Café

Imagine commuting to work on a 32” Nimbus unicycle. Gabriel, 16, rides to his shifts at Fresh Grounds Café, causing coworkers and customers to smile in wonder. Gabriel heard about the Fresh Grounds Café training program when he was 14 and attending the nearby Nova Academy. The Fresh Grounds trainee recruiter visited his school to give a presentation about the benefits of training. Gabriel had to wait until he turned 15 to enroll; and after training had to wait again until 16 to be hired. But according to Gabriel, it was worth the wait. “Fresh Grounds helped me with socializing, memorizing recipes, and multi-tasking,” he comments. Working about 20 hours weekly over the summer, Gabriel spends his spare time atCircus Juventus, where he has been training for the past eight years.

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Women and Children in Recovery at RS EDEN

RS EDEN Women’s Program provides family-centered substance use disorder treatment for women and their children. Treatment services are offered in the newly-renovated 614 Grant building in Minneapolis. The building was purchased in 2016 and redesigned intentionally to create a family-centered, trauma-informed environment in which women and children can heal together. Women attend treatment groups to address trauma, parenting skills, chemical dependency, and mental health. Mindfulness, yoga, and meditation techniques are part of their recovery, as well as regular family events and outings including trips to the Minnesota Zoo, State Fair, local libraries, and other sober family events. Children are welcome at the building and central to the family’s recovery process. Mothers and children live together in the nearby Lorraine Apartments, a place where women can free themselves from substance abuse, stay safe, and practice a change in lifestyle and commitment to sobriety that supports healthy families. Children are supported with access to PICA Head Start and transportation to various school programs.

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Tenant Satisfaction High at RS EDEN Supportive Housing

In Spring of 2018, RS EDEN’s Asset Management Division conducted a tenant survey at all its metro housing locations with a 59% return rate. The average rating about how RS EDEN operates its housing was a 9 out of 10. Tenants especially appreciate the safety and stability that RS EDEN housing programs provide, the recovery focus, and the staff, units, and larger community.

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RS EDEN’s Emanuel Housing Designed by Cermak Rhoades Architects Received the 2018 Affordable Housing Design Award

AIA Minnesota and The McKnight Foundation proudly announce that RS EDEN’s Emanuel Housing is the winner of the 2018 Affordable Housing Design Award. Located in near U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, the facility offers permanent affordable housing in a vibrant neighborhood, with health care and support services on site. The ideal location, nestled in a mixed-use neighborhood with excellent transit access, provides a population coming out of homelessness with a new opportunity to connect to the broader community.

Recognized for the award is RS EDEN; Cermak Rhoades Architects; Frerichs Construction; Pierce Pini + Associates; Spencer Jones Landscape Architect; Mattson Macdonald Young; and Emanuelson-Podas Inc.

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Alliance Apartments Celebrates Diversity

In March, Alliance Apartments hosted the second-annual Avowal: A celebration of Culture. This tenant-led event provides an excellent opportunity to gather for dinner and fellowship, while recognizing the many cultures that come together in the building.

An amazing menu played a starring role in the celebration. Staff and tenants shared traditional foods representing their cultural backgrounds. This year included Liberian food, traditional Jamaican jerk chicken, corned beef, greens of many types, Hawaiian turkey, a Polynesian chicken dish, spaghetti, and traditional wild rice from Red Lake. To continue the conversation about culture and diversity, tenants spoke on a variety of topics.

What makes the tenant-led celebrations at Alliance so amazing is the enthusiasm of the tenants. Watching them come together as a group of people from every walk of life and share their stories, their perspectives, and their knowledge, is truly inspiring. According to Program Manager, Karen Johnson: "It is impressive to see the tenants come together for this event, to lead and to share. We watch them break their own stereotypes as they contribute their talents and their wisdom. The staff get to just sit back and enjoy." The 2018 Avowal was a tremendous success.

Nurse Practitioner Clinic Open at Women and Children's Family Clinic

RS EDEN proudly offers medical services at the Nurse Practitioner Clinic, recently opened at the Women and Children’s Family Center, in Minneapolis.

The people served here experience numerous barriers to primary and preventive healthcare services, resulting in fragmented care, reliance upon costly emergency services, and less connection and participation in health care activities. To better respond to this need, RS EDEN is collaborating with the University of Minnesota School of Nursing to offer an on-site healthcare clinic at the Women and Children’s Family Center.

Job Opportunities

RS EDEN is an equal opportunity employer whose mission is to provide recovery, accountability, and support services facilitating individual, family, and community movement from non-productive behavior to responsible, self-sufficient lifestyles.