Riverside Coming Home
Riverside Coming Home is a program of the Prison Ministry of The Riverside Church of New York, in collaboration with Xavier Mission, The Beck Institute on Religion and Poverty, and the Fordham Graduate School of Social Service.
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Riverside Coming Home seeks to empower men and women who are returning to the community from incarceration. Riverside Coming Home is based on a well-established model with a track record of success and over a thousand graduates in the New York Metropolitan area in the past two decades. Participants work with facilitators and mentors to support personal healing and growth, skill development, and reintegration into the community.
The Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing held its first Interfaith Convocation and Overnight City Budget Vigil in 1985 to call for action from the City of New York to address homelessness and the housing crisis. Annual overnight convocations became a focus for the group. In 1989, the overnight event became a 200-day encampment in City Hall Park. The personal testimonies of those who led the encampment were powerful and compelling. Inspired by these stories, and in partnership with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, the Assembly developed the Education Outreach Program that grew into what are now known as Life Skills Empowerment Programs (LSEP). Riverside Coming Home is based on the Educational Outreach and Life Skills Empowerment Programs model. The program was started at Riverside Church in Fall 2012.
Participants engage in twice-weekly evening meetings over the course of 13 weeks. Each session begins with a group meal, followed by a session on life skills, the sharing of personal stories in the context of a supportive group process, and one-to-one mentoring. Mentors work with participants to establish and implement personal and career goals. Riverside Coming Home, which includes both men and women, is limited to approximately 12 participants per semester. Over the course of the semester a family-like community is formed through the creation of an environment based on trust, support and respect.
- Life Skills/Community Building Sessions – Co-facilitators lead each session. Some sessions include invited expert speakers. Sessions focus on important topics including Goal Setting, Breaking the Cycle, Developing Healthy Relationships, Employment, and Housing.
- Goal Setting with Mentors – Each participant works one-on-one with a trained mentor to develop short and long-term goals and to take action towards meeting those goals.
- Personal Stories – Participants are guided in integrating their life experiences from past to present to future, through developing and telling their own stories.
- Support Services – A social work intern from the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service works with participants to provide guidance and support throughout the Coming Home process.
- Welcoming and Celebration – Congregation members welcome participants by providing food and sharing in meals. Members also celebrate with participants through joining in the Graduation ceremony at the end of the program.
- Respect for Commitment – A round-trip MetroCard and $10 stipend are provided to participants for each session attended. Participants are required to bank half of their stipend until graduation from the program.
- Alumni Events – Following graduation from the program, monthly meetings of the Riverside Coming Home Alumni Association continue the personal healing and growth and maintain the positive support system created throughout the Coming Home process.
Become a member of The Riverside Coming Home Family!
Requirements for Participation:
- A recent history of incarceration i.e. returned from incarceration within the past three years.
- A minimum of six months sobriety, and a committment to staying clean.
- A readiness to learn, share and grow in a supportive group setting.
- A willingness to commit to regular attendance and serious engagement in this process.
- 21 years of age or older.
- Completion of an interview with a Riverside Coming Home staff member and subsequent acceptance into the program.
- A round-trip MetroCard and $10 stipend are provided to participants for each session attended. Participants are required to bank half of their stipend until graduation from the program.
Mentors are expected to attend approximately seven mentor-specific sessions and dinners with their mentee throughout the three-month semester, as well as graduation. Mentors are also offered a training session prior to being matched with a participant. Mentors work with participants one-on-one to set life goals, both short, and long-term and develop action steps towards meeting those goals. Mentors also provide encouragement and support to participants throughout the Coming Home process.
Riverside Coming Home seeks volunteers to assist in preparing, setting up and cleaning up the dinners. Volunteers are invited to stay and enjoy the dinner with participants.
For additional information or to participate, mentor or volunteer, click here to contact the Mission & Social Justice office.