Chicago program aids former inmates in rebuilding lives after prison

CHICAGO – Every year, approximately 20,000 individuals are released from prison in Illinois, with two out of five of them returning to prison within three years. However, Project H.O.O.D., based out of Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood, offers a program aimed at assisting former inmates in rebuilding their lives after incarceration.

“It was the vehicle that got me back into the community and ordinary life out here,” said Jeff (Rafi) Boyd, who spent over 20 years in the federal system before coming home in November 2018. Boyd credited Project H.O.O.D., an acronym for Helping Others Obtain Destiny, for his successful reintegration into society.

For individuals transitioning out of the prison system, the journey toward a better future often begins with securing employment. Boyd now leads an intensive reentry cohort for individuals seeking a fresh start after leaving prison.

“It gave me the opportunity to give something back, to help someone,” Boyd expressed. “Much like Project H.O.O.D. did for me when I came home. I know the value of services and resources being available to our formerly incarcerated individuals, having walked that walk myself. I know how difficult it would have been if Project H.O.O.D. hadn’t been there for me.”

Throughout the program, participants spend a week learning essential skills such as resume building, financial literacy, communication, conflict resolution in the workplace, and professional work ethics.

Pierre Blakeney, a former inmate turned Reentry Community Navigator for Project H.O.O.D., shared his personal transformation: “The work I used to do was involved in crime, and I was tearing the community down. If you’re on the wrong track, this will get you back on the right track and into a positive environment on a positive road map to success.”

The next enrollment for the reentry program begins on Monday, February 12th, with registration open until Sunday, February 11th. Project H.O.O.D. offers free enrollment, along with bus cards for public transportation users, gas cards for drivers, and a shuttle service for transportation to and from the program.

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