The volunteers of the Dismas House Ministry provide transition support to individuals re-entering the community from federal incarceration.
Ministry volunteers help facilitate weekly workshops in areas such as job searching, life skills, and GED preparation. The group also assists with a monthly women's issues group, a quarterly motivational series and special projects as needed.
Each Thursday evening, ministry volunteers carpool to Dismas House Atlanta to help facilitate classes. Dismas volunteers let the residents know that people care about their successful transition into community and will show up on a regular basis to provide support for their journey.
New volunteers are always welcomed and can schedule their participation according to their availability. Anyone who is interested in learning more about Dismas House Ministry is encouraged to call and schedule a time to go with the group on a Thursday evening.
ABOUT DISMAS CHARITIES
Assisting those transitioning from incarceration to community was the initial focus in 1964 when Father William Diersen, Chaplin at the Kentucky State reformatory, founded a re-entry center that housed 15 residents. Today, Dismas Charities operates 33 re-entry facilities in 14 states (four in Georgia). Learn more about Dismas Charities at http://www.dismas.com.
St. Ann’s Dismas House Ministry began almost 30 years ago with a simple request from Dismas Atlanta for clothing for job search activities. Dismas Atlanta is located off of Fulton Industrial Boulevard and has space for 190 residents that stay from six weeks to six months. The center’s population is about 85% male and 15% female. Volunteers connect with more than 550 residents a year.
forgiveness abounds: volunteers offer strength for the journey
Each Thursday, a carload of St. Ann parishioners makes its way around Interstate 285 for an appointment. These Dismas Ministry volunteers seek to encourage, inspire and motivate people transitioning from incarceration back into normal life.
“Everyone makes mistakes,” said Christine Holt, “some more severe than others. However, Christ demands that we all seek and give forgiveness.”
For nearly 30 years, this St. Ann ministry has been facilitating weekly classes in areas such as GED prep, parenting and job searching for residents of Dismas Atlanta, named for the penitent thief crucified on Calvary with Jesus. Clients stay for up to six months and nearly 500 residents go through the center yearly, said Jo Simon, the ministry leader at St. Ann. The volunteers, she said, are a consistent reminder that there are people in the community who will be there for them.
“I particularly enjoy the direct interaction with Dismas residents,” said Melise Etheridge. “I know we make an impact on their lives with our classes [because] many relay their success stories to us.
“It’s a good feeling to know we are following Christ’s example by helping some of the most forgotten people in our society.”
New volunteers are always welcome to come on a Thursday to learn more about Dismas House Ministry, Simon said, but they must be at least 21.
pictured: Dismas House Ministry volunteers enjoyed a Mass said by Archbishop Wilton Gregory at the transition facility.