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Kelly Dame Published 1:27 am EDT, Friday, September 7, 2018

A community organization focused on helping former offenders be successful after their release has been gifted a grant to help female clients.

The Zonta Club of Midland has granted $1,000 to Midland Community Former Offenders Advocacy and Rehabilitation to assist female offenders.

“We are very grateful for their support,” said Rob Worsley, executive director.

MCFOAR focuses on helping former offenders in Midland County with their successful reintegration into productivesocietallife, improving not only their quality of life, but that of their families, neighborhoods, and community. The organization helps with a variety of needs by providing resources and services for shelter, food, and clothing, transportation, creating resumes, applying for jobs, substance abuse disorder mentoring, mental health referrals, anger management andmore.

So far this year, MCFOAR has placed 82 clients with employment and assisted 47 with housing, including moving in or emergency rent. Housing and employment are major predictors as to if former offenders will reoffend or not.

FromJuly21,2015,toJuly21,2018,MCFOARhasreceived145formerprisoninmates, those returning to the Midland community from the state prison system, as opposed to those being released from the Midland County Jail. Of those145,only nine have returned to incarceration in prison, resulting in a recidivism rate of only 6.2percent.

The reduction in the recidivism rate is a substantial savings to the citizens of Midland County regarding Midland County Jail housing costs, the cost of law enforcement and the judicial system, and most importantly the lower number of victimsinour community.

For more information or to donate, go to midlandcommunityformeroffenders.org or call 989-423- 1124. MCFOARislocated at 1415 Washington St. and is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Friday from 8 a.m. to noon.

© 2018 Hearst Communications, Inc.

Kelly Dame Updated 7:48 am EDT, Thursday, July 19, 2018

An organization built to ensure community safety by supporting inmates returning to the community has garnered extra grant support.

Rob Worsley, executive director of Midland Community Former Offenders Advocacy and Rehabilitation, said the nonprofit recently received $45,000 in grants and gifts.

MCFOAR applied last year for a Community Impact Grant from the Midland Area Community Foundation and has been awarded $30,000 for housing assistance and workforce development programs. Worsely said MCFOAR also received a Dow Chemical Donor Advised Grant for $10,000 to assist with the same programs.

The final $5,000 was in the form of a gift from the Ladies of Blessed Sacrament, who give to a community organization each year, Worsley said.

“We are continuing to grow,” Worsely said of the nonprofit, which is in its sixth year of ensuring community safety by supporting inmates returning to the community with housing, employment and more.

That growth includes making a strategic plan through the Community Advancement Network, which works with nonprofits in the Great Lakes Bay Region. The cost of the planning has been covered, in part by a $5,000 grant from the Patricia and David Kepler Foundation.

MCFOAR has hired a part-time, female staff member to assist with female offenders, Worsely said, adding about 20 percent of the clients coming to the office are women.

The number of clients coming in continues to grow as well, with the office handling 750 client files total since the organization began in January 2013. Last year brought the addition of 115 new clients, which is a bit down from 141 clients assisted in 2016.

There have been 63 new clients so far this year.

More than 220 have been assisted with housing, and Worsley has been building connections with area employers.

“We’re almost getting to the point where we have more jobs to fill than clients,” he said. More than 360 clients have been placed with employment.

Worsley added that as of May7, MCFOAR has received 138 former inmates and from May 7,2015, to May 7,2018, only four of those clients are back in prison.

© 2018 Hearst Communications, Inc.

Local organization helps ex-offenders reintegrate safely and successfully

Posted by Kahryn Riley on June 1, 2017 at 4:15pm

“There are some evil people out there – but most aren’t.” So says Rob Worsley, the executive director of Midland Community Former Offenders Advocacy and Rehabilitation, located in Midland, Michigan.

Worsley, an Army veteran, has more than 37 years of experience working with offenders in law enforcement, jail administration and the Michigan Department of Corrections. He started the Midland organization after working for the Michigan Prisoner Re-entry Initiative. During its tenure, the initiative gave local agencies funding to help ex-offenders find housing and employment when they return home. But it was replaced by a more centralized program run by the Michigan Department of Corrections that uses state re-entry money on in-prison programming.

When the state shuttered the re-entry initiative and took back the money it had previously sent to fund community-based programs, Worsley decided to start something new. Something had to be done, he realized, to help returning prisoners, former jail inmates and other offenders meet their basic needs. That wasn’t happening once the re-entry dollars disappeared from local organizations. Although the Corrections Department now provides in-prison programs to prepare ex-offenders for re-entry, Worsley maintains that it’s not enough. “Close to 100 percent of the offenders who return to this area come to [us], and close to zero percent of them have had the re-entry preparedness that we think [MDOC provides them].”

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Once ex-offenders do return home, finding help can be a challenge. “This area hasn’t had a dime of re-entry money in five years,” Worsley says, adding that many prisoners return home under the mistaken impression that they will find other sources of aid. “I wish people would tell offenders that they will be held as long as we can keep them, and then monitored without being given anything.”

Midland Community Former Offenders Advocacy and Rehabilitation is the only nonprofit in the Tri-City area that helps returning prisoners. It works with faith communities, community assistance agencies and government offices, including law enforcement, the courts and parole and probation offices. Worsley’s devotion to this work has paid off: Of the 86 parolees he is actively working with, only two have returned to prison. He says this is a win for public safety and a major savings for taxpayers, who would bear the $45,000 cost of imprisoning an offender for a year.

Although Worsley estimates that his nonprofit service saves taxpayers approximately $3 million per year in prison housing costs alone, he operates it on a much smaller budget. Fundraising is a challenge, he says, because of the stigma of criminality. Still, he says, “they are who they are, and we’re trying to turn them and their kids around. We’re making a huge impact.”

Rob Worsley, Executive Director

 

Kelly Dame, kdame@mdn.net

Published 8:30 am, Saturday, May 20, 2017

NICK KING | nking@mdn.net Erica Hansen, right, sings with friend Tara Toma during a Restoration Fellowship service on Jan 9, 2016 at Messiah Lutheran Church in Midland. Hansen is a regular at the Saturday … more

With new eyes and a new heart for each client, a local nonprofit is working to help those who struggle with a unique set of challenges — the kind that test trust and patience, but overcoming can make all the difference.

The work done by the staff at Midland Community Former Offenders Advocacy and Rehabilitation is a special outreach aimed at helping former offenders learn how to take care of themselves without breaking the law again.

“People don’t offend on a schedule, they do so when a circumstance occurs,” said Rob Worsley, program director for the nonprofit MCFOAR, 1415 Washington St.

Worsley and assistant program directors Gerry McIvor and Tom Vander Zouwen spend their time assisting former inmates and prisoners as well as those who are in the Midland County Drug Court obtain housing, employment and basic needs. They also try to educate and serve as sources of on-call advice, provide workforce training and overcome road blocks.

The idea is the more these needs are met, the less likely former offenders are to revert back to their old ways. And that’s a good thing for the community, because it means less crime and less recidivism, plus less costly law enforcement and judicial systems.

MCFOAR is working to add additional layers of services for clients, the latest in the form of a mentoring program for those with employment needs or drug addiction.

“We have some great opportunities for people with addictions,” locally to get back on the right path, Worsley said, adding the first two weeks after a person leaves detox are the most dangerous for relapse.

The mentoring program would provide a one-on-one mentor for each client, to help them with accountability so they can sustain employment, as well as for support when they come out of drug treatment programs. The idea is to work with other organizations and employers in town.

“We’re trying to put another layer in there,” Worsley said.

The program would be modeled after the 70×7 Life Recovery program offered in Holland, Michigan, and Worsley said he is in the process of seeking community interest and volunteers.

What MCFOAR does

Worsley, a former Midland County sheriff’s deputy and jail manager, went on to work with the state’s prison re-entry program. When funding for that program was discontinued in December 2012, he began MCFOAR.

The plan is to help former offenders build skills to reduce risk behaviors, plus help them build value and life balance. That means Worsley, McIvor and Vander Zouwen are on call to answer questions and provide emergency assistance, as well as hold office hours during which they help offenders obtain documents like identification and birth certificates, plus housing, employment and more.

As of March, the program has 571 client files since January 2013. Of those clients, 258 have served prison time, and 313 are former Midland County Jail inmates or involved in other programs.

During the same time period, MCFOAR placed 269 clients out of 321 with employment, resulting in a placement percentage of 84 percent. The organization also helped 163 of 165 clients asking for help with housing.

Employment and housing help are critical because they are the major predictors of whether a former offender will reoffend, Worsley said.

From March 2015 and March 2017, MCFOAR worked with 84 former prisoners. Of those, only three are now incarcerated, making the recidivism rate 3.6 percent. State and national recidivism rates, measured during the same time frame, are at 43 percent and 51 percent, according to information from MCFOAR.

“Our hope is to help former offenders so they don’t reoffend,” Worsley said. “It makes the community safer and gives them hope for a better life. Without hope, they’re just existing every day.”

MCFOAR recently was awarded a $500 grant from the Rotary Club of Midland Morning to support the Alternatives to Violence program.

A typical day

There is no typical day at MCFOAR, both Worsley and McIvor say.

Some days see the staff attending the Midland County Drug Court or presenting at various organizations around town, working on new programs, or tasks including picking up furnishings, dropping off food and items to clients on tethers or who are homebound, and more.

There’s no appointment necessary for offenders who need help, and they flow through the door from the morning to early afternoon.

“For each client that comes in, new eyes, new heart,” McIvor said.

Jerry Laughton turned to MCFOAR for help after his second stint in prison. He and Worsley have known each other for decades, due in part to Worsley’s work in law enforcement and Laughton’s history. His first time in prison was in 1997, and there was no one to help when he was released two years later.

“I was totally homeless,” Laughton said, adding he lived in the woods. He said his most recent release was better, knowing he could visit MCFOAR and have a cup of coffee and a chat, as well as support.

That support included help getting an apartment, as well as furnishings. MCFOAR also offered help with education, and cell phone minutes so Laughton could obtain employment. The pair talked as Worsely filled out a form to create a voucher for a check that Laughton was to take to Kmart to purchase more minutes.

“We don’t give money to clients, we give them resources to meet the need,” Worsley said. The cell phone minutes were a big deal for Laughton, who has mechanical skills and picked up work as he could doing odd jobs.

MCFOAR also helped Laughton obtain an apartment, as well as with furnishings, clothing and more. Laughton is no longer involved in the MCFOAR program.

Erica Hansen also has been on the client list, after experiencing the criminal system due to drugs.

A recovering addict, Hansen said she depended on support groups, meetings and church to keep her occupied and away from drugs. MCFOAR provided her help with finding a job, no small task for a person with a record, and she pointed thanks toward Worsley.

Much of the attention given to clients is teaching them to deal with things right now instead of putting them off for another day, Worsely said.

“Many of our clients have substance or other disability situations come up and we usually hear about it in the last hour,” he said. That includes things like eviction orders, which clients call about on the seventh day. Many clients don’t want to reach out for help because of pride, but run into trouble when the figure out they can’t do it alone.

“We use that as an opportunity to teach,” Worsely said. “We put part of the onus on them, also asking them to help themselves.”

“We do less of the enabling and encourage more of the participation” McIvor said. “We try to instill some responsibility.”

Another issue the program helps former offenders deal with is the tendency to deal with today but not worry about tomorrow, Worsley said.

The idea of making it through the current day is how their lives developed over time, he explained, pointing out many offenders were put into survival mode early in life because they did not have the kind of support or stable living situations they needed. That also means MCFOAR is teaching clients to have a long-term vision, and “it’s OK to plan for the future,” Worsley said.

Long-term vision

Mindy Kuhn is a former offender who has learned much about having a long term vision, and how to reach for it.

“I got in trouble with drugs,” said the spring 2016 Midland County Drug Court graduate. “It was so bad,” she said of her life before she began the recovery process. “I was so down and out and miserable.”

She was connected with MCFOAR by drug court staff due to struggles with housing and food after entering the court program in the fall of 2014. “My life is awesome now,” she said.

Not only did Kuhn receive help with those problems, she received support and help with transportation, and regained her happy nature and contagious smile.

“It truly changed my life,” she said, citing her relationship with God, having support and being able to keep her young daughter, Kylyn, who will turn 2 in August. That was huge for Kuhn, whose problems with drug use caused her to lose custody of her three older children. She needed to have a stable home to keep Kylyn.

“They worked real hard to help me get into a place,” she said.

The work Kuhn completed during her recovery, in addition to keeping clean, included attending recovery meetings, staying away from people who would pull her back into poor decision making, attending church and working with counselors and an infant mental health worker.

“I understand I had to put in the work,” she said, pointing to MCFOAR for helping her or pointing her to people who could.

“We’re always blessed when we can hear the recovery in people’s lives, where they come from,” McIvor said.

“They have your back,” Kuhn said of the program staff.

As one of the requirements to graduate drug court, Kuhn wrote a 15-page life plan. It includes self-accountability, stability, attending school for her aesthetician and nail tech licenses. Her long-term goal was to operate an animal rescue operation.

“I want to go to school. I want to move out. I want to have my rescue center,” she said.

At her drug court graduation, Kuhn summed it up.

“I’m just truly grateful. … It’s a pride thing. Use the resources, that’s why they’re here.”

For more about MCFOAR, go to www.midlandcommunityformeroffenders.org

 

Kelly Dame, kdame@mdn.net

Updated 10:03 am, Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Rob Worsley, program director for the Midland Community Former Offenders Advocacy and Rehabilitation program, and Tina S. Van Dam of the Midland 100 Club.

The Midland Community Former Offenders Advocacy and Rehabilitation program is growing, in terms of donations and community recognition.

The latest good news for the organization, which operates out of a small office in the Midland Towne Center, came with the last meeting of the Midland 100 Club for the year. At the Sept. 28 meeting, the MCFOAR program was selected for presentation to the group and received enough votes of support that it was awarded $50 from each of the 325 members.

While the monetary gift is big for the program, the community support is priceless, program director Rob Worsely said.

“While the gift is great for our program, having the support of 325 women who are leaders in the community is important,” he said, pointing out the members of the Midland 100 Club are looked up to by many in the community.

“The $50 gift from each of the them helps our program immensely, and their support is even bigger,” he said. “We’re just tickled about it.”

MCFOAR, which partners with the Caregiving Network, assists former inmates obtain housing, employment and other basic needs. The more those needs are met, the less likely former inmates are to revert back to their old ways, Worsely said.

In July, the MCFOAR office had 458 client files, with 243 of those files belonging to people who have served prison time. Of those former prisoners, the recidivism rate is 4.5 percent. For all other offenders participating in the program, including those who have served jail time or have not been institutionalized, the recidivism rate is 2.5 percent, Worsley said.

Nearly three quarters of those seeking employment had been placed, and 98 percent of clients seeking housing assistance, including move ins and emergency rent, had been helped.

 

Rob Worsley, Executive Director

Midland Community Former Offenders Advocacy & Rehabilitation

Office:989-423-1124 Cell: 989-423-3295

Fax: 989-423-1252 Email: mcfoar@yahoo.com

 

Kelly Dame kdame@mdn.net

Published 2:00 pm, Monday, July 4, 2016

The Midland Community Former Offenders Advocacy and Rehabilitation program has recently received multiple grants from community organizations.

MCFOAR, which partners with the Caregiving Network, assists former inmates to obtain housing, employment and other basic needs. The more those needs are met, the less likely former inmates are to revert back to their old ways, Rob Worsely, program director, said.

The grants include:

  • $7,500 from the Dow Chemical Donor Advised Grants through the Midland Area Community Foundation,
  • $8,000 from the Dow Corning Donor Advised Fund,
  • $1,000 from the First Baptist Harlow Fund, and
  • $15,000 from the St. John’s Episcopal Endowment Fund.

The funding from the First Baptist Harlow Fund is for obtaining essential documents, while the remaining grants are for workforce development. The Dow Corning Donor Advised Fund monies also are to assist with housing, Worsley said.

His office has 458 client files, with 243 of those files belonging to people who have served prison time. Of those former prisoners, the recidivism rate is 4.5 percent. For all other offenders participating in the program, including those who have served jail time or have not been institutionalized, the recidivism rate is 2.5 percent, Worsley said.

“Our employment assistance has placed over 74 percent of our clients requesting assistance,” he said, adding 98 percent of clients seeking housing assistance, including move ins and emergency rent, have been helped.

 

By the Midland Daily News

Updated 11:11 am, Monday, March 14, 2016

The Midland Community Former Offenders Advocacy and Rehabilitation program has received a $19,436 grant from the Midland Area Community Foundation.

Rob Worsley, program director of MCFOAR, said the grant will fund two new programs: Alternatives to Violence and Character First.

Alternatives to Violence seeks to change the behavior of domestic assault offenders. In the past, it was operated by Shelterhouse. Character First involves 49 character qualities that are focused on reducing risk behaviors of former offenders.

MCFOAR, which partners with the Caregiving Network, assists former prisoners with obtaining housing, employment and other basic needs.

Worsley can be reached at (989) 832-8533.

KELLY DAME kdame@mdn.net

Published 8:00 am, Tuesday, December 30, 2014

 

A local advocacy organization aimed at helping former offenders and in turn keeping recidivism rates low is ending the year with big news.

Rob Worsley, program director of Midland Community Former Offenders Advocacy and Rehabilitation, said a $20,000 grant from the Charles J. Strostacker Foundation was recently announced.

“That was the first large family foundation grant I have received,” he said. “This is huge for MCFOAR.”

The grant will be used to continue providing housing and rental assistance, behavior assessment and modification, and more. It also requires updates on housing, expenses and recidivism rates.

MCFOAR, which partnered with the Caregiving Network earlier this year, assists former inmates with obtaining housing, employment and other basic needs. The more those needs are met, the less likely former inmates are to revert back to their old ways, Worsely said.

“It’s a great savings not just to our community, but to the state overall,” Worsley said of the program to help inmates be self sufficient.

So far, Worlsey has about 290 client files, and an additional 30 workforce files. The local recidivism rate is pretty stable at 4 to 5 percent, while the state average is about 35 percent, he said.

“It’s been amazing since April,” when MCFOAR partnered with the Caregiving Network. In June, Worsley had 240 client files.

Worsley, a former Midland County sheriff’deputy and jail manager, went on to work with the state’s prison re-entry program. When funding for that program was discontinued in December 2012, Worsley began MCFOAR. He pointed out not only has he been in inmate homes, but he’s talked with offenders while they were incarcerated, so he understands their situations.

He said it costs $39,000 to incarcerate one person in a Michigan prison for a year.

Worsley can be reached at (989) 832-8533.

Kelly Dame kdame@mdn.net

Published 3:15 am, Saturday, August 9, 2014

A program to help former prisoners integrate into society has received a boost in funding with a grant from The Dow Chemical Co. Foundation.

Rob Worsley, program director of Midland Community Former Offenders Advocacy and Rehabilitation, said the $15,000 grant was made in July. The money will be used for workforce development, emergency assistance and more.

Earlier this year, MCFOAR was in need of a partner organization, which gave an opportunity for the Caregiving Network to step in.

“It’s awesome,” Julia Bristol, Caregiving Network executive director, said of the grant. “The Dow Chemical Company Foundation investment will allow MCFOAR to continue it’s work and also maintains the community safety we all enjoy in Midland.”

Worsley, a former Midland County Sheriff’s Office deputy and jail manager, went on to work with the state’s prison re-entry program. When funding for that program was discontinued in December 2012, Worsley began MCFOAR.

He said it costs $39,000 to incarcerate one person in a Michigan prison for a year. He said his program provides a cost savings to law enforcement and the court system, and also to the community, as he assists former inmates obtain housing, employment and other basic needs, he said, adding the more that these needs are met, the less likely former inmates are to revert back to old ways.

Worsley can be reached at (989) 832-8533.

 

By Joe Mortensen

Published 6:30 am, Sunday, March 24, 2013

Rob Worsley

This is the 14th in a series of articles on agencies that participate in the Midland County Continuum of Care.

When offenders complete their prison sentences and return to society, where do they go? What happens to them?

Ninety-five percent of the time they go back to the community from which they came. The success or failure of their re-entry depends on having their basic needs met and on developing the skills needed to make it on the outside.

Without such support, many ex-offenders soon go back to prison. According to the Pew Center on the States, 31 percent of Michigan prisoners released between 2004 and 2007 were re-incarcerated within three years.

Concern for ex-offenders’ well-being and successful rehabilitation when they return to society has prompted former law enforcement officer Rob Worsley to form Midland Community Former Offenders Advocacy and Rehabilitation (MCFOAR).

Through MCFOAR, Worsley hopes to carry on and expand the work he did for the last four and a half years as community resource specialist (CRS) with the Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative. Michigan Department of Correction’s funding for a full-time (CRS) in Midland and Bay counties was reduced to one full-time specialist for both. This greatly reduced the accessibility and availability for resources for Midland County active parolees.

Worsley, a 25-year veteran of the Midland County Sheriff’s Office, including service as jail administrator, had connected with 100 or more ex-offenders in the Midland area through the state program. Now he feels compelled to carry on the work through MCFOAR.

He describes MCFOAR, for which he serves as program director, as a “one-stop shop” for former offenders. Its mission is two-fold: reduce recidivism in Midland County and make the community safer. Worsley said that ex-offenders, both former prisoners and county jail inmates, having adjusted to the controlled setting of incarceration, come back to their communities poorly equipped to function in society. They lack coping and job skills and struggle to trust strangers.

MCFOAR addresses the errant ways of ex-offenders and provides them with tools to assist their transition into society. All ex-offenders living in Midland County are eligible for help with finding housing, food, clothing, medical and mental health referrals, employment readiness, addiction counseling and mentoring.

MCFOAR is working with The Legacy Center for Community Success to apply the concept of developmental assets to former offenders. The concept of developmental assets has been successfully implemented with adolescents to reduce delinquency and improve health outcomes for Midland County youth. A parallel approach with adults is anticipated to produce related outcomes.

Worsley has his office at 1415 Washington St.; the phone number is (989) 832-8533. He currently is working without taking a wage or benefits while he seeks funding from local foundations, a City of Midland block grant fund, and area faith-based organizations. Local agencies, including the Caregiving Network, Open Door Ministries and 1016 Recovery Network, work closely with MCFOAR.

MCFOAR operates under a 501c3 tax exemption status. Worsley welcomes inquiries from individuals and community groups.

Along with more than 20 other agencies, MCFOAR participates in the Midland County Continuum of Care, working to prevent homelessness by providing housing-related services to those who are homeless or living in substandard housing.

The Midland Continuum website is at http://continuummidland.wordpress.com