A program that helps people transition from jail to society just got a boost

In2Action Executive Director Dan Hanneken, third from left, chats Friday with the Veterans United Foundation team, including Mariah Journey, from left, Piper Brintnall and Brock Wright, at the In2Action offices. He was explaining the program prior to receiving a $100,000 grant in support of In2Action's capital campaign.

In2Action, the Columbia-based transitional housing and substance use recovery program for formerly incarcerated offenders, and the Veterans United Foundation created stronger ties Friday with a $100,000 grant award to In2Action.

The money is going toward In2Action’s capital campaign to find a permanent home for The Reentry Opportunity Center, or ROC, a drop-in resource center for those not participating in the In2Action program, currently at 2108 Paris Road. Funds also are going toward expanding In2Action’s recovery respite care housing.

Members of the Veterans United Foundation team met with In2Action leadership and board members to present the award Friday. The foundation team also had a chance to meet a small group of those in the In2Action program and tour its 4-acre site on Lakewood Drive, which can welcome 55 people.

Members of the Veterans United Foundation presented a $100,000 check Friday to In2Action staff and board members and In2Action program participants in support of the transitional housing and substance use recovery program's capital campaign.

“A couple things we try to challenge here is (the idea) that people in the criminal justice system are not going to change and this notion that people won’t change until they want to,” said Dan Hanneken, In2Action founder and executive director, adding statewide recidivism is 43% after three years, but at In2Action it is less than 5%. “We get people in here all the time that do not want to change when they get here.

“… The biggest thing they can think of when they get here is staying out of prison. We have to teach them that is not a measure of success. It’s important and a foundation, but let’s talk about not what you are not going to do, but what you are going to do.”

In2Action also recently received a $1.2 American Rescue Plan Act allocation from Boone County, also in support of its capital campaign as well as a workforce development program to add a forklift certification course to In2Action’s program.

Veterans United and In2Action have a longstanding partnership, said Piper Brintnall, with the foundation.

“We work with them annually for direct program support needs. … Dan came to us last fall about the capital campaign and asked if the foundation could be a part of that,” she said. “He came and presented the idea and our board of directors made the decision on how much money to donate for the project.”

More:One-time American Rescue Plan awards give organizations growth opportunities in Boone County

In2Action program participants, when they start, have all these opinions about what society and the criminal justice system thinks about offenders, said Doreen Dabney, board member and live-in volunteer.

“We have an exercise where we ask, ‘When you get to the end of your life and you look back, what do you want to see,'” she said. “They say the same things that everyone wants to see. They want to see a family. One gentleman said, ‘I hope someone comes to my funeral.’ This program allows us the time to spend with them and help them learn to believe they are the people they always thought they were but never had bought into society.”

Even those who start the In2Action program, but may not finish it, still are its biggest advocates, said D’Markus Thomas-Brown, In2Action managing director.

“That is phenomenal to me. People still come by to see Doreen. Regardless how the discharge happened, they still call our staff. What they get here is a community. If you want to see how people’s trajectory will be, look at the community,” he said.

More:‘A hand up, not a handout:’ Gov. Mike Parson welcomes grand opening of Columbia Reentry Opportunity Center

Charles Dunlap covers local government, community stories and other general subjects for the Tribune. You can reach him at cdunlap@columbiatribune.com or @CD_CDT on Twitter. Subscribe to support vital local journalism.

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