John, a recent graduate of the REACH program in Meriden, is also determined to be one of the program’s great successes. REACH (Re-Entry Assisted Community Housing) is a statewide, scattered-site supportive housing program for individuals re-entering the community from the correctional system. Case managers work with clients to find appropriate housing and jobs and to develop the skills needed to maintain successful, independent lives within the community.
John, now 31 years old, has been working full-time at a warehouse since September 2015 and in December moved into his own apartment. He has clear plans for the future, which include finding a better job, finishing school, and finding something to invest in.
John grew up in Hartford and worked for a while in his family restaurant. As a youth he had some minor infractions with the law. But a domestic dispute with the mother of his two children resulted in a prison sentence. He was paroled after having served 37 months and went to a halfway house in Hartford. There he learned about the REACH program. He applied, was accepted into the program, and began working with The Connection’s case management staff.
“Even in jail I was always doing things,” John says. “I went to school, took classes in computer graphics, and went to every program voluntarily. “When I was at the halfway house I went to Adult Education classes, took advantage of training opportunities at Easter Seals, STRIVE, and the Chrysalis Center. I got training in Masonry and also got Forklift and OSHA 10 licenses.”
When he was ready to move out on his own he reached out to staff at The Connection Counseling Center, where he was attending groups, and they referred him to the Federally-funded Access to Recovery and State-funded Basic Needs programs for housing assistance.” Because John is highly motivated and has an excellent work ethic, finding jobs was relatively easy. But, due to a lack of local public transportation, finding a job at which he could stay was more difficult. Eventually, he took a warehouse job — a 10 minute walk from his apartment.
And John has dreams. “I want to own my own business — something that’s creative and makes money, maybe something in the food industry. But I really like construction, especially masonry. I like the idea of working for someone and also being able to do work on the side.
The money is important to John—not only because he needs to support himself, but he also wants to care well for his children, a boy and girl, now eight and six. John is focused on doing well. In the past year he had roommates who were using, three different parole officers, and two different case managers, but he was able to not let that affect his success. Now that his life is stable he plans to go back school to get his GED. He understands that everything will come if he keeps working at it.