From FailSafe-ERA's Chairman Bobby Anderson
I am honored to have been selected as the Chairman of the Board of FailSafe-ERA.
I have worked with our volunteers at many levels this past year and have found each one of them to be genuinely dedicated and committed to FailSafe-ERA’s mission of helping formerly incarcerated individuals start a new, productive life.
Once returning citizens have paid their debt to society, FailSafe-ERA offers them a second chance through support with education, employment, community reintegration and so much more. I invite you to check out our latest trifold which highlights all of FailSafe-ERA’s programs by visiting this link. We will update the trifold as programs expand or new programs are offered.
If there is a country that prides itself on second chances for returning citizens, it’s America. So, the FailSafe-ERA philosophy of giving returning citizens a second chance is directly driven by a national interest in working towards successful, meaningful lives for our citizens. We are proud to say that FailSafe-ERA’s efforts in the community are not “hand-outs,” rather, they are “hand-ups” for those who honestly seek a shot at a second chance. Please see the short article on “end-of-year contributions” in this issue of The Anchor to find our how you can help.
I became a FailSafe-ERA volunteer when a call was put out for individuals who could help with a public speaking course. Although I am not a professional speaker, I know the process from my previous membership in Toastmasters, so I offered to help. Soon, I discovered that the rewards of being involved in FailSafe-ERA are immeasurable and as a result – I’ve been hooked ever since.
As FailSafe-ERA’s Chair, I realize that one of the most important factors for a non-profit to survive and provide services is funding. Without sufficient funding, FailSafe-ERA’s programs, services, and most importantly – our people – will all fade away. So please consider a donation to FailSafe-ERA as a personal holiday pledge to help returning citizens get a second chance.
One of our biggest efforts underway right now is the the Right Road Job Training and Placement Program, which is a joint effort between the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) and FailSafe-ERA. This pilot program (which begins in early 2019) will prepare returning citizens for employment in the workforce as road workers. The trifold I mentioned earlier has more details on this exciting program designed specifically for returning citizens seeking a second chance and a good paying job.
We will of course continue reviewing grant announcements for funding opportunities and exploring other creative fundraising options as well. We will also review the board oversight responsibilities in finance, strategic planning and program operations. I will keep you posted, so stay tuned.
I wish you and your families the happiest of holidays.
Returning Citizen Spotlight:
As a result of a 10-year addiction to drugs, 27-year-old Breeanne Cleveland was given a felony conviction and a stay at the Rappahannock Regional Jail (RRJ). She had lost everything – family, friends, all possessions, and her beloved nursing license.
Breeanne used the time in RRJ to think deeply about what was in store for her upon her release. She knew that she had a difficult road ahead of her with a felony conviction on her record. She also knew that she couldn’t do it alone and needed help, guidance and friendship.
It was during her stay at RRJ that the Massachusetts native met FailSafe-ERA’s President and CEO Juanita Shanks. Breeanne told Juanita that she was ready to improve her life and help other young adults to “prevent them from making the same mistakes that I did,” she said. And she’s doing just that.
In the long-term, Breeanne has her sights set on becoming a Peer Recovery Specialist to help prevent, as she says, “the same thing that happened to me from happening to others, especially our youth.” To help prepare her for this amazing career decision, Breeanne is currently enrolled in FailSafe-ERA’s Toastmaster’s Program and is fulfilling the other requirements of the program as well, including classroom time and community service hours.
From one of her Toastmaster speeches, Breeanne summed up her lifelong experiences by saying, “the day I realized the things I valued at the that time were irrelevant and I owed more to myself. I had to rethink my morals and values and keep them at the highest standards. I decided to put God above all, followed by my children and my family.”
Upon her release from RRJ in May 2017, Breeanne has made incredible progress and sees her life as a blank canvas.
“A canvas that I would fill up with love, and new networks, and refuse to distort it with pain and negativity. I am finally sober and free and for once in my life I am happy just being me. I chose to learn from my behaviors and to take the time I was incarcerated to plan better and to really think of how to make a change in me. I also hope to guide young people out of their destructive ways and to help guide them away from their deadly habits, to give them the spark to do that,” she said.
Breeanne is also involved with the Christian Brothers Transitional Program working with young adults as well as being involved in several of FailSafe-ERA’s programs.
Breeanne will join FailSafe-ERA volunteers and other returning citizens on WFVA’s “Town Talk” radio show on December 20, from 8-9 a.m. The group will speak on life’s challenges and FailSafe-ERA’s returning citizens programs. Please plan on tuning in.
Please consider an end-of-year contribution to help so many in need
Every year, approximately 400 prison inmates complete their sentences and return to our community and for the last 10 years, FailSafe-ERA has been there to assist these returning citizens by providing much needed services and support. We recognize that many of our returning citizens are those individuals attempting to get their lives back on track to become contributing members of society, but there are usually many hurdles to overcome. That’s where FailSafe-ERA can be a tremendous resource for these men, women and their families. Some of the programs that FailSafe-ERA currently provides are located here, however, these programs take resources, people and funding to stay afloat. We are seeking donations now to keep the following programs:
* The Right Road Job Training Program
* FailSafe-ERA’s Annual Scholarship Fundraiser
* Changing the Next Generation Affected by Incarceration (youth programs)
* Prison Ministry
* Our general fund (proceeds to this fund help all of our programs)
Your generous gift will equip FailSafe-ERA with the necessary resources (personnel, materials, equipment, and support services) to fulfill our mission. Gifts with no designation will be deposited to our General Fund to assist all of our programs. A "Special Edition" of The Anchor will be published within the next few days with more details on how you can help FailSafe-ERA through a tax-deductible donation.
FailSafe-ERA Prison Ministries
FailSafe-ERA's Prison Ministry conducts bible studies at the Rappahannock Regional Jaill and has served 225 inmates to date. The ministry offers spiritual guidance using biblical resources including the “Building Your Spiritual House” curriculum. Pastor Phyllis and her team support returning citizens maintaining relationships offering 24/7 emergency care. Additionally, two couples recently receiving services through the Marriage Assistance Program. The program’s SHARE and Bread Ministry (top) also distributed 112 food packages recently. FailSafe-ERA appreciates our partners - Grace Point Fellowship, St. Jude Church and CSTP for their generous donations.
FailSafe-ERA discusses returning citizens programs on WFVA's "Town Talk"
Tony Roman, Juanita Shanks and James Baron were guests on the Ted Schubel’ s “Town Talk” radio show, aired on WFVA-AM Fredericksburg on November 9. One hour was spent on the air discussing FailSafe-ERA’s ongoing programs within the local community. Ted requested that FailSafe-ERA return on December 20 to discuss the effects of incarceration during the holiday season. Several returning citizens will be featured on the show. This will be FailSafe-ERA's third appearance on the local station.
Toastmaster’s – both young and old
FailSafe-ERA is currently conducting its second round of Youth Speaks Toastmasters at the Juvenile Detention Center. Eleven youth are participating. In addition to the youth learning communications and leadership skills, FailSafe-ERA is also offer them learning lesson presentations from members of the community. In addition to the youth program, FailSafe-ERA is also conducting its fifth Toastmasters Speechcraft Program for ten adults who have already proven to be an awesome group of ladies and men eager to change, master the art of communication through public speaking, and gain leadership skills to better manage their lives and opportunities presented to them. They are already receiving requests to speak at events in the community.
Ready, Set, Release
During the months of September and October Doug facilitated four Resiliency: Becoming the Best You, classes as a part of the Ready, Set, Release Program at the Rappahannock Regional Jail. Chaplain Jack Richards reported receiving favorable feedback from both staff and inmates about the classes and the program in general. James Baron and Doug Roberts are scheduled to facilitate four more classes during the month of December.
Trifold tells FailSafe-ERA’s story
A full-color trifold marketing piece was developed, produced and printed recently which highlights FailSafe-ERA’s many activities. The trifold is already receiving wide distribution at various events within the community. The trifold will be updated as new events and information become available. To download the current trifold, click here.
ATSSA’s Annual Convention and Traffic Expo
FailSafe-ERA will be attending, exhibiting and speaking on the Right Roads program at ATSSA’s Annual Convention and Traffic Expo, Tampa, Fla., Feb. 8-12, 2019 in Tampa, Fla. Attendance to this event is approximately 3,000 visitors from roadway safety companies and federal, state and local transportation agencies. FailSafe-ERA team members will have the opportunity to meet and network with roadway safety companies, elected officials and public safety officials from around the country during this event.
FailSafe-ERA office coverage begins in December
Effective December 1, FailSafe-ERA will have daily office coverage, with volunteers on duty to assist those who call the organization. The volunteers and their hours of coverage are as follows:
Mondays: 1 - 5 p.m.
Tuesdays: 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Wednesdays: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Thursdays: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Fridays: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.