Focus on Re-Entry: Coping with Freedom

2014 Prison Ministry Conference

Saturday, April 5, 2014

from 8:30 AM until 3:00 PM

Christ Church Cathedral, 45 Church Street, HartfordCT06103

The seventh annual Connecticut Prison Ministry Forum "Hope on the Horizon" was a success!

"Hope on the Horizon" was a conference for present and prospective prison volunteers, formerly incarcerated men and women and their families, social service professionals, clergy, and community.

Featured speakers

Sister Tesa Fitzgerald, CSJ
Sr. Tesa Fitzgerald of ''Hour Children'' makes a point at the 2014 Prison Ministry Forum
Sr. Tesa Fitzgerald is Executive Director of Hour Children, an organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of intergenerational incarceration. Sr. Tesa began this work in 1989 when she became a foster parent to eight children of incarcerated mothers at the convent where she lived. In 1996 Hour Children became a 501 (c)(3) organization offering a wide range of supportive services for both children and their mothers, including housing, child care, mentoring, job training and placement.
For more information about Sr. Tesa Fitzgerald's work, you can visit the Hour Children website at WWW.HourChildren.Org
Stephen Lanza, MA, LMFT, DAPA
Stephen Lanza of ''Family ReEntry'' talks about effective reentry at the 2014 Prison Ministry Forum
Stephen Lanza is the Executive Director of Family ReEntry. Family ReEntry began in 1984 as a reentry support group for men at the Isaiah House in Bridgeport, and has grown to over 15 intervention, reentry, and family and children programs. Services are provided in Bridgeport, Derby, Norwalk, Stamford, New Haven, Norwich, and in three prisons in Cheshire and Niantic.
You can find more information about Family ReEntry at WWW.FamilyReEntry.Org

Panel discussion among formerly-incarcerated men and women

All of the ex-offenders spoke very eloquently about their experiences while incarcerated and after release, and answered questions from people who attended the Forum.
One participant in the panel discussion
One participant in the panel discussion
One participant in the panel discussion
One participant in the panel discussion

Volunteer of the Year Award

In 2014 two people received the Volunteer of the Year Award: The Rev. Valerie Dixon and Helen Dillon.
The Reverend Valerie Dixon receives the Volunteer of the Year award from Bishop Laura Ahrens at the 2014 Prison Ministry Forum
Bishop Laura Ahrens congratulates the Reverend Valerie Dixon on being named 2014 Volunteer of the Year by Faith Behind Bars and Beyond.
Helen Dillon receives the Volunteer of the Year award from Bishop Laura Ahrens at the 2014 Prison Ministry Forum
Bishop Laura Ahrens congratulates the Helen Dillon on being named 2014 Volunteer of the Year by Faith Behind Bars and Beyond.

Lunch

Catered box lunches were provided.
Delicious box lunches were made by the caterer.
There were several choices of lunch, including vegetarian options.
Several kinds of beverages were available.
Beverage choices abounded, from water to soda to sugar-free drinks. Coffee and tea were available all day.
Lots of friendly networking took place over lunch.
During lunch we socialized and networked informally. It was an excellent opportunity to get to know each other. (Sorry; we couldn't get a photo of everyone.)

Community Discussion

John Santa led a discussion of "What are our hopes for people re-entering? How can we make those hopes a reality?"
John Santa leading the discussion of our hopes and plans for helping ex-offenders re-enter the larger society.

Closing

Members of the newly-formed singing group Women On Our Own closed the 2014 Forum with inspiring songs.
''Women On Our Own'' sang at the closing of the ''Hope on the Horizon'' Forum.
These three formerly-incarcerated women did an outstanding job of performing "We Shall Overcome" and other songs. They had us all clapping and singing along.
Special thanks to these ladies and the Judy Dworin Performance Project! You can see more at .

Displays

Posters and information provided by several organizations gave details about various services available.

You can see information about the 2015 Prison Ministry Forum here.