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An innovative approach to serving others.

RISE; Learn more: www.seeusrise.org; Photo credit: McKenzie Ring

For RISE, action means being innovative in our approach to serving others, especially when met with adversity. Turning every barrier into an opportunity while leaning into our strengths to foster the best outcomes possible for our program participants.

The RISE program begins for participants while they are still incarcerated – all taught by RISE staff that facilitate inside state facilities in Nebraska – and continues as they prepare to release into the community. Our program has the greatest impact with in-person teaching in collaboration with community volunteers that aid in each participant’s success.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has heavily impacted the way we teach our program. Most facilities have experienced lockdowns off and on throughout the year as outbreaks came, went, and returned. With a lot of asking and a lot of pivoting, we’ve been fortunate to turn some of our classes and events into virtual ones despite technology restrictions inside prisons, and we are SO grateful for that. It’s important to understand that 90% of people in state and federal prisons WILL be released at some time, and preparing them to reenter well requires a lot of support, empathy, and community. And regardless of a pandemic, reentry doesn’t stop. People are still coming home from incarceration and ready to thrive and move forward.

Reentering society after incarceration is a crisis EVERY day, not just amid a pandemic. The struggle to find affordable housing, employment with a livable wage, mental and physical health resources, reliable transportation, and safe social interactions are unfortunate normalities faced regardless of a worldwide health emergency.

COVID-19 has created job loss, furloughs, and homelessness for people simply looking for a second chance. Through support from RISE and our community, we’ve been able to not only keep programming going, but help people with securing employment (new or first time), housing, and so much more.

A RISE graduate recently released said, “I am writing to thank you for helping me to ease into release. An ice cream cone with a cherry on top feels like the perfect description of this experience. This month (only two days in!), has brought me the amazing experience of walking in my neighborhood and finding what I need…a hardware store for brooms, the post office and happily stood 6′ distance, and a bank. This all represents the planting of a ‘community’ garden and I’m so very grateful for the guidance, encouragement and support that you have provided. I genuinely feel that the world is my oyster.”

Giving people hope and the tools to empower themselves…that’s action to us.