Here's a note from Dave Kerr, one of the organizers of Sunday's March for Peace and Solidarity:
Again we encourage and give thanks for the support of suburban faith based groups. Our Newark brothers and sisters are battered by violence and addiction and homelessness needing your prayers and mentoring and support.
We hope that you will attend this grass roots Solidarity movement on the 30th. We will meet at Newark City Hall on the afternoon of November 30th at 1:30pm marching to Lincoln Park for the rally at 2pm, even and especially on Thanksgiving Sunday.
Pastoral Care Response – Parents, families, and the community are working to overcome their grief at the loss of a loved one. The faith community will work to share that burden each time loss of life occurs in the city. This effort will strengthen families and provide a visible response to those working through their loss. The clergy would also expect to be a leading presence as citizens, community leaders, government officials, service providers, and others look for ways to reconcile differences, as well as provide comfort and emotional support.
Mentoring: With 70,000 individuals coming out of state prisons over the next 5 years and with tens of thousands of addicts on parole and probation, a high priority to a reentry agenda is a must. Solidarity Sunday will be the beginning of bringing faith based and community leaders together on specific and well defined projects. For example, we will encourage participants to sign up as mentors to help those trying to change their life after incarceration or after drug treatment and throughout their years of recovery. Each one of theses people needs a mentor - one on one. Integrity House alone is looking for 100 mentors and this challenge will be facilitated through our efforts beginning on Solidarity Sunday, November 30th.
Draft of some of our Objectives:
1. To reach out to employers who will be part of our rally and who will promise jobs for qualified individuals who have a criminal record but who have completed rehabilitation. Each person referred (mentee) will have a mentor and other support people possibly including a parole or probation officer.
2. Mentors needed: To reach out to our agencies and service providers, and shelters to determine how many individuals or clients need a mentor and to determine the name and the phone number of the mentor coach for that agency. For example, the Essex County Youth House may have 12 youth per month released to our community. The Warden might be the contact person for any mentors who may want to help each released youth. There will be one mentor for each mentee and each mentor coach will organize and facilitate the appropriate training needed for his or her client. Another example might be Integrity's Outpatient Women's program where each one of these women needs a mentor to walk them through job search, transportation, legal issues, housing etc.
3. To organize a program to bring truant children and youth back to school, signing them up with a mentor, as well to lead them to the appropriate support services. Many gang leaders and members do not want violence and are willing to submit to urine testing and background checks in order to be part of "The Council" – gangs who use their influence to help others in peaceful ways.
4. To help the City's to bring our young men and women back into our community with all of the details of reintegration worked out for each parolee The support would start from the mentor picking up the former inmate upon release to job finding, mental health or substance abuse treatment needs, housing, family reintegration, legal issues etc.
5. To review our objectives from time to time and to adjust our implementation plan as needed as we learn more about the effectiveness of our efforts.
6. To organize a gun exchange program in line with what is already ongoing
See you on the 30th!!
David H. Kerr
Founder and President
103 Lincoln Park
PO Box 510
Newark, NJ 07102