From prison to prosperity: Home 2 Stay project provides hope

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Wisconsin ranks number one in the state, per capita, for the incarceration of African American males. The question is, once they get out, and many of them will, how do we help keep them out? That was the focus of an event touting the Milwaukee's Home 2 Stay Project.

Alysia Mullins is one of the success stories of the word hope.

"I'm back in school now, I'm becoming a Mental Health AODA Counselor," said Alysia Mullins, helped by the program.

Now Mullins is part of Quality Addition Management for the Ministry, and helped celebrate its Milwaukee's Home 2 Stay Project at a luncheon at the Italian Community Center.

The project received a grant from the department of labor to further its work with people in prison.

"It's a focus on industry trained jobs with livable wages. We will be working with these individuals up to 6-months before they come out of prison," said Charles McClelland, Word of Hope Ministries President.

And that's where Mullins was introduced to the Word of Hope,  while incarcerated.

"And that was the first place I went to when I got out. I still had the clothes on, went straight to Word of Hope. Two weeks later I got a job," said Mullins.

Employers were also being honored at the luncheon.

McClelland says about 40 employers are partnering with the program and are willing to hire the ex-offenders.

"Because we bring them as trained individuals, with a support system that they don't normally get. And we've heard about that gap in skills. We're addressing that gap," said McClelland.

U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Moore commended their partnership and the impact its having.

"Being honest about your conviction and being able to have a conversation with employers, this is what this ministry is doing," said Moore.

The program provides intensive case management and mentoring once incarcerated individuals get out of lock-up.

"It's people like us who made some bad choices but with some help can make great change. I think the focus is Home 2 Stay. I'm home to stay, and I am so grateful for it," said Mullins.

The Word of Hope president said the program is already making in-roads. He says its recidivism rate is 11%. That compares to the national rate of about 43%.