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South O nonprofit ReConnect Inc. promotes redemption, reentry through resource fair

Posted at 9:41 PM, Apr 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-12 22:41:05-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — April is Second Chance Awareness month, a period recognizing stories of redemption as formerly incarcerated people share their paths to rehabilitation — out of the justice system, and back into society.

ReConnect Inc. is a nonprofit in South Omaha that works year-round on this goal.

"I've always liked helping people but man, this right here is a whole 'nother level,” said Michael Glaze, case manager, reentry and employment specialist, ReConnect Inc. “I mean, I can't even describe how it feels, especially when you have helped someone, and they come back and you see the express joy on his face."

Glaze knows both sides of the coin.

He’s been incarcerated since 2019, serving a sentence for a second conviction. He went through ReConnect as a job seeker, to prepare for life outside of jail. On his way out of the program, he expressed his gratitude to the organization’s founder, LaVon Stennis-Williams, offering a hand if she ever needed extra help with the program.

Three months later, Glaze helps other inmates, connecting them with employment opportunities, helping them sharpen their communication skills and more, while he prepares for his own release from custody.

"I enjoy it very much. I mean, I get to leave every day, help people come get jobs, and although I have to leave at night and everything, this is helping me also put resources in my family's hands as well."

Stennis-Williams founded ReConnect Inc. in 2012. She currently serves as the organization’s executive director. She estimated that based on foot traffic and interest expressed in the resource fair that between 100 and 150 people would attend. 25 nonprofits and four employers were also set up to offer their resources and support at the annual event.

"Reentry is everybody's responsibility,” Stennis-Williams said. “When we're able to help people be successful when they come out, we're made a better and safer community. So we want to make awareness of the resources that the people have to access once they get out as well as the need for community engagement to help these individuals overcome barriers."

As for Glaze, helping others is a big part of his goals for the future as he contemplates going back to school and potentially earning a counseling license. Going back to prison is not part of the plan.

"This is my final number for sure. I have no want and/or desire to ever return to anything of that nature," Glaze said. "And this has also helped me to build a new skill set, its brought things out in me that I didn't know that I had. I knew I had some of the skills, but I didn't know that I'm evolving on a daily basis, too."

ReConnect Inc. is open Monday through Friday and is located at S. 42nd Center Streets. For more information on the organization’s services, visit this website.

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