Messenger photo by Lori Smith
Eastside resident Marty Koeber (left) and Reynoldsburg resident Jane Zimmerman (right) sort clothes at the Kindway Share Shepherds Place free clothing store, 1729 Brice Road. The two are members of Reynoldsburg United Methodist Church, which is the umbrella organization for the Kindway program.We have very passionate and dedicated volunteers, said Rosie Johnson, manager of the free store.We couldnt pull it off without them, Reynoldsburg United Methodist Church, and the support we get from the community.
An outreach program of a Reynoldsburg church may have a new name and focus, but its mission of helping others remains the same.
Christine Money, executive director of Kindway, explained how the newly formed non-profit organization is a subsidiary of Reynoldsburg United Methodist Church.
Kindway includes two programs – Share, featuring Shepherds Place, a free clothing store that has served the community for more than seven years, and Embark, an offender re-entry program that works with men and women returning to central Ohio after incarceration.
With the re-organization under the Kindway name, Money said, the goal is to make the programs more self-sufficient and less dependent upon the church.
A bridge into the community
The re-entry program is a passion for Money, who retired from the State of Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. Last summer, Embark was launched at Marion Correctional Institution and Ohio Reformatory of Women.
“I saw from the inside of those state agencies a need to develop a re-entry program, Money said.We are trying to connect them to programs or services to assist in their recovery.
As part of the Embark program, the offenders receive guidance and support as they navigate their journey from incarceration to independence, Money said.
Embarks unique approach includes working with offenders prior to their release and providing them with support after they return to the community. Candidates are carefully accessed for their readiness to participate in Embark.
“This is a way to provide connections on both the inside and the outside, Money said, noting that Reynoldsburg United Methodist Church has a long history of working with those in the prison system.
In preparation for their release, offenders must participate in Celebrate Recovery, a biblical program that helps individuals overcome their hurts, habits and hang-ups. The 12-step, faith-based recovery program leverages eight principles from the Beatitudes and applies the biblical principles of conviction, witnessing and helping one another.
They are also required to participate in Getting It Right, a re-entry program based upon the principles that individuals are responsible for their behavior and they are able to change their behavior.
In addition, months before participants are released, they are assigned navigators/mentors who work with them inside the prison to provide on-going planning, support and guidance as they prepare to embrace independence. A minimum of two navigators partner with each participant.
One of Embarks first success stories is a woman who was released this past summer, Money said. She moved in with her parents for the transition period, and after three weeks had a full-time job as a hair stylist.
“She is working, has two mentors, and is doing very well, Money said.
Many former offenders are looking to help others, and this gives them a way to do it, she said.
“I am being contacted from people who have been out a long time, are doing really well and want to give back, she said.They want to help others.
The Embark program is still in the early stages, but there are big plans for it.
“It is our intent to design the model and then evaluate expansion, Money said.Eventually we would like to offer the model to other faith-based organizations.
For more information on the Embark program, or to volunteer to help, call (614) 501-7322.
A helping hand
For more than seven years, the Shepherds Place has provided free clothing to any Ohio resident in need, regardless of income.
Rosie Johnson, manager of the Shepherds Place at 1729 Brice Road, said in a years time volunteers have given out more than 90,000 clean and gently used articles of clothing and accessories for all ages, shapes and sizes.
“Our standards are extremely high, said Johnson, as she sniffed an article of clothing to see if it smelled like cigarette smoke. It did, so it was put in a box to be donated elsewhere.Anything we dont keep, we give to the Salvation Army.
Although all items are free, the Shepherds Place is still set up like a store, with racks set up by size and gender.
“We do that so our members dont feel like theyre getting charity, Johnson said.
In addition, the members stop at the door tocheck out like they would at a store.
Adult clothing is limited to five items per month; childrens clothing sizes 18 months to adult is limited to five items per month; infant clothing size newborn through 12 months is limited to 10 items per month; accessories are limited to two items per month; shoes or slippers are limited to one pair per month; and socks are limited to one pair per month.
“We have some customers who are regular customers, she said.Others only come one or two times and we dont see them again. Either way, we are happy to help.
In addition to the free clothing, the Shepherds Place also provides a representative from the Franklin County Board of Health from 10 a.m. to noon every other Wednesday to answer health-related questions and provide referrals for other community services.
The Mount Carmel Mobile Medical Unit is also available on the first and third Wednesday of each month to provide basic medical support to community members without health insurance.
The Shepherds Place is a full-service site for the Ohio Benefit Bank, which provides free income tax services, free assistance to public benefits, help with Medicare expenses, home energy assistance, voter registration, child care subsidy, prescription and food assistance, and more.
The Shepherds Place store hours are 1 to 5 p.m Monday; 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesday; and 10 a.m. to noon Saturday. The donation center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.
All donations are tax-deductible, and they particularly need mens and childrens clothing, as well as new socks.
For more information on the Shepherds Place, or to volunteer to help, call (614) 866-1680.