Outreach helps newly released prisoners

Many recently released inmates from local jails have nowhere to go upon their release, but today at least 60 of them will have some basic help.

As part of a recent partnership between the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Re-Entry Navigator program and Venice’s Epiphany Cathedral, now at least 60 newly released inmates will have brand new “Start-Up Kits” to help them on their way.

The five dozen Start-Up Kits, created by Epiphany Cathedral’s Youth Group, are backpacks containing basic necessities, such as: hygiene supplies, rain poncho, towel, socks, sunscreen, lip balm, flashlight, and a special St. Michael the Archangel medal provided by the Outreach program at Epiphany Cathedral.

“We realized that many of those who are just released do not have anything, or anywhere to go,” said the Navigator program’s Fernando Rivera Lugo. “Unfortunately, often their only immediate choice is to become homeless.”

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Re-Entry Navigator program is a supplemental program to help men and women before and after release. Re-entry “navigators” work with inmates assisting them on their personal journeys toward reentry and/or recovery by implementing a case plan via community partners, like Epiphany Cathedral.

“The Youth Group at Epiphany was eager to help,” said Msgr. Patrick Dubois, Rector at Epiphany Cathedral, who offers the Catholic Mass at Sarasota County Jail once a month. “The mission of the Catholic Church is service, and this is a concrete example of how all can help those most in need. You would be surprised at how much a small gesture can help someone to get back on their feet.”