Jobs for Life Graduate
Now Has Dream Job
Altogether, Cassie Russell spent at least two years between jails in Marion, Shelby, and Hancock Counties, and several more in work release programs, house arrest, and probation. She had serious mental health problems and struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction, but that’s all over now.
When UNITE INDY’s Doug and Scott met her at a Jobs for Life (JfL) class, she had been in recovery for three years, but still not working towards a career. "I was fearful to work, she said, I thought I might never be able to have a job that meant anything to me.”
Cassie’s comeback: She gives all the glory to God, who led her to UNITE INDY's JfL course, which paired her with a great champion/mentor who helped her build relationships, identify roadblocks, and recognize her accomplishments. She was reminded to be honest and up front in job interviews and her assessment of aptitude and interests revealed a real talent for caregiving. It gave her the strength to go after a job she’d always wanted—a job she loves—working as a direct support professional to care for others. “Today, I take care of people in a way that I was taken care of growing up. God blessed me with a great family.” Cassie prays to one day be a chaplain, working with hospice as she develops a deeper relationship with Christ to help others know that we are not our mistakes. Says Cassie, “It wasn’t an easy journey, but it’s never too late for God’s miracles to work in our lives.” PHOTO: Top Right, Cassie Russel at JfL 2022 graduation with UNITE INDY's Scott Whiting. Photo from Shelbyville News. Left, Cassie today.
Reentrants Can Receive
Training for High-Pay Jobs
Conexus Indiana is a powerful entity that works to develop a high quality, educated workforce in Indiana.
At a time when many are strapped with college loans, wondering if they can find a good job, Conexus' Catapult program actually pays people, through grants, to be trained and certified to work in high-paying manufacturing jobs.
For reentrants, this training means higher wages, lowered recidivism, and better economic outcomes for families.
If that sounds like the perfect partner for UNITE INDY's burgeoning reentry workforce, we would agree. Many of those released from incarceration have no specific job training. The Catapult program is perfect for them, as they can receive a paycheck while they go through training, with a 90% probability of getting a good paying job after certification. Jim Cotterill and Scott Whiting visited Bob McQuern at Conexus to talk about how UNITE INDY can supply a stream of highly motivated former inmates who want a new life and need a fresh start. We look forward to working with Bob and his great team! PHOTO L to R: Conexus Indiana Director of Adult Education Bob McQuern, UNITE INDY President, Jim Cotterill
Second Chance Indy
Phone Charging Stations in Marion Co. Jail!
To help the legion of those with dead phone batteries being released from the Marion County Adult Detention Center, some very generous donors provided the funding to install two phone charging stations As the reentrants' phones charge, UNITE INDY folks have extra time to help them find job opportunities that may lead to a better future for them and their families.
Each station, modeled after our home page, has six connections for various kinds of phones, and QR codes are embedded to give reentrants direct access to our jobs lists and service providers that cover just about any kind of need.
One thing we’ve learned: Small things matter, and these charging stations are already increasing user awareness of next steps in the journey to work and restoration.
How Howard County Program 
& UNITE INDY's Vans Change Lives
When Michael Paul was arrested for selling drugs and criminal confinement he wondered what would happen to his kids. Luckily for him, Superior Court Judge Doug Tate offered him a choice: Incarceration or work. The offender must find a job within 14 days and need to have reliable transportation to and from work—the two greatest barriers to success and the two biggest reasons for recidivism.
Enter UNITE INDY’s van program, which provided the reliable transportation, and Park 100 Foods, UI’s Employer Partner, which provided the job. Paul says the work-release program, and the transportation assistance changed his life. Life is now good, “I’ve got custody of my kids, I’ve got my own house. I’ve got two cars, and money in the bank,”
This year UNITE INDY will have about 20 vans, each taking up to 15 otherwise-unemployed reentrants to our Employer Partners’ jobs. Like Paul, they all need a second chance. Photo: Michael Paul working with Steven Donnelly, another work-release program participant cleaning machinery at Park 100 Foods. Photo and excerpt from Kokomo Tribune 2/22/23 by James Bennett III.
NO Contact to HIGH Contact, Something for Anyone Who Cares
For most Christians, the power of prayer isn't a mystery. They've seen it work. So UNITE INDY is beginning a new level of volunteer.
1. Prayer Warriors will be praying for inmates by name, with no contact. This can be a powerful act for both those who pray and the inmates for whom they pray. We provide the names. You pray. God works. Period.
2. Inmate Correspondents share a more personal relationship. They generally communicate through email, or by post office addresses at their Church. These relationships are extremely fulfilling for both parties as they share the Word, their trials and blessings with each other. No face-to-face contact unless the writer wishes to visit.
3. Coaching is the next level of interaction. Coaches work one-on-one and through face-to-face contact as they walk with reentrants following release from incarceration. Coaches help (they do not 'do'), they are a friend, they advise, they encourage, and guide.
4. Champions enjoy the highest level of contact as they walk with the inmate through a Jobs for Life course, both one-on-one and face to face in group discussion--which may be in person or by remote methods. He or she is a coach, listener, encourager, advocate, role model, and guide for the reentering person who interacts with the reentrant through release for a least the first 90 days, and hopefully for contact over the next year if needed. It takes a lot of love, but if you read the top story in this newsletter, you will get an idea of how powerful this position is for someone going through Jobs for Life and reentry.
Do you see yourself in any of these rolls? Pray about it, Click Here, and sign up. You'll be doing God's work.
A Mindful Approach to
Prison Reform
What if we could separate the sheep from the goats? What if, in sentencing people to prison, we could separate first time offenders and point them in the direction of restorative justice in a program that would work toward offender rehabilitation and victim restoration? Big idea, right? It’s an idea that led a thoughtful inmate to study the kinds of restorative justice efforts that have been tried over the years. In Nancy’s post, you will read his words about how such a system might work—based on successful experiments in some of our country's toughest prisons. One such program was memorialized in a documentary and a book, "Letters from the Dhamma Brothers: Meditation Behind Bars." Read the post here. Who knows? It might move some to think about a better way. Baby steps can lead to big things!
Why Support UNITE INDY?
UNITE INDY fights the root cause of poverty, which impacts some of the most pressing problems we face in our city, such as hunger, homelessness, and interrupted educational opportunities for children.
Our major focus is to assist the 12,000 inmates returning to Central Indiana after long-term jail sentences. UNITE INDY provides mentored job training inside the jail, and a website for those with a criminal record,, filled with job openings offered by our Second Chance employer partners.
These jobs are powerful weapons with which to fight poverty in our neighborhoods.

How You Can Support Jobs for Justice- Involved Individuals
3. Please donate to UNITE INDY now. There are a number of choices that are all secure and safe. By sending your fully tax deductible gift* now we can have a greater impact meeting needs in our community in 2021
Support of Ministries and Charities:
Since 2017 UNITE INDY has provided a free web-based system at that connects churches, ministries, and other charities to share their volunteer needs or needed items.

Remember, almost 1 out of every 3 children in Indianapolis lives below the poverty level, yet even in the aftermath of the COVID shut down, as our economy comes back to life and employment is returning, all this good news stops at the lines surrounding many of our inner city neighborhoods. In some neighborhoods of Marion County unemployment is now 21%, and poverty remains the overwhelming divider of people.

Please donate to UNITE INDY now. There are a number of choices that are all secure and safe. By sending your fully tax deductible gift* now we can have a greater impact meeting needs in our community in 2021.

Many, many thanks!

 *UNITE INDY, Inc. is approved under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501(c)(3) as a Public Charity, donors can deduct contributions they make under IRC Section 170.
Corporate Partners
A big Thank YOU to our Corporate Partners for their unwavering support which makes it possible for us to provide our services at no charge to job applicants and employers!

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