In Oregon, the state CRI reps are gearing up to bring the 3rd leg of the ‘CRI 3 legged stool’ into place. What are the 3 legs? Jails, prisons & re-entry! Why the analogy of the CR Inside mission with a three legged stool? Because, just like with the stool, if only 2 legs are in place the stool will fall over, without a healthy re-entry program all of our efforts inside of the institutions will fail once the inmate is released. Re-entry, is the term used to cover many aspects involved in the transition of an incarcerated man or woman back into the ‘outside’ community. A person may have been locked up in the environment of a prison for many years, or for only a short time in a county jail, but in either case, helping that person to ‘start over’ upon their release doesn’t leave much room for error. Over the last year we have seen a great response with volunteers taking ownership of the many CR groups inside the chain link & razor-wire, the efforts to expand into new institutions & deepen the existing teams with new volunteers will continue. But, the time is right & urgent, for developing a strong network of volunteers serving in re-entry efforts within our many healthy community CR groups around Oregon.
The Oregon CRI team’s new state rep, Mike Cross, has spent several years serving as a professional mentor in Washington County, as well as, ministry leader of a community CR group, pastor over a transitional housing program for men, ministry leader for the CRCI CRI group & now, as the Portland CRI Rep, serves as the Portland Tri-County CRI liaison to the Home for Good in Oregon (HGO) re-entry program of the Oregon DOC, Religious Services Department. The HGO program in the greater Portland area sees the most offenders released of anywhere else in the state. In Salem, Stan Sorenson working closely with state CRI rep Larry Courtain, is our liaison to the HGO there, in the second highest releasing community in Oregon. Mike is currently developing a CRI training which will be first taught at the next CRI Quarterly meeting on October 4th. Re-Entry Training will provide CR groups & CRI volunteers a basic understanding of what is involved in assisting a man or woman to successfully re-enter society. We will also incorporate the HGO volunteer training to give those people, who want to volunteer as HGO mentors, the tools they need & certify them as potential mentors to individual offenders. Additional training, will be offered soon, for CR leadership in community groups to prepare them for the challenges of welcoming the man or woman offender into their group & assisting them successfully. For all of us, ending up finding a home in a community CR, establishing a network of friends & sponsor/accountability partners & becoming part of the leadership serving others, is what Christ uses to restore & grow us as His beloved children. It’s what we call recovery & it’s crucial for the transitioning individual to immediately find & embrace as their own!
Oregon CRI reps have started identifying CRI Coordinators in community CR groups who will focus on re-entry ‘work’ within their CR group & the local community on a regular basis. The CRI Coordinator will assist the Ministry Leader, or other members on the TEAM, responding to letters from inmates, answering questions about CRI volunteering, learning about the various resources available in the local community for those in transition, etc. The activities of the CRI Coordinator will be approved by the Ministry Leader, but chosen by the CRI state rep, the Coordinator will be knowledgable & be able to respond appropriately to the needs of those in transition. Having a knowledgable person, man or woman or both, serving in this capacity will increase the opportunity for success of the re-entering person, & thus the overall community. Forming a synchronized network, around the state of Oregon, of the inside programs & volunteers together with the community CR groups is our long term goal & we’re excited to begin ‘attaching the 3rd leg to the stool’. In Celebrate Recovery we are God’s hands & feet, what we do ‘for the least of us’ we do for Him. If we do anything for our Lord, it’s imperative that we do it with all our might & confidence, that we cooperate with each other & lift each other up in prayer & in action.