LANSING, Mich. — A unique fair held Sunday in Lansing aimed to help people recently released from jail or prison made a smooth transition back into society.
The Re-entry Resource Fair pulled together local organizations that works to help returning citizens.
Katy Kelly, one of the organizers, says this is the second time this festival has been held and that what it offers is critical to the success of people who are looking to get re-established.
“Nation Outside is here. They are an awesome organization that helps with re-entry. The district library. A lot of times when we think of re-entry we don’t think of the library, but they are a great resource. They were a great resource when me and my husband were going through his re-entry process," Kelly said.
Lawanda Hollister spent more than three decades behind bars. She has been back home for about a year and started up a non-profit called Chow Hall to help people who are returning to society.
Hollister says one of the toughest hurdles many people in this community face is acceptance.
“The biggest challenge is to be accepted for who you are now versus who you were when you went in. Because if you’re not accepted for who you are now and you don’t have the opportunity to move forward then you revert back to who you were," Hollister said.
Hollister works with other nonprofits to help people who have been incarcerated get IDs and shows them how to make healthy meals that are “institutionally inspired”.
Darrell Alexander returned to society nine years ago. He says the fair is an important tool.
“It has to be some type of happy medium to bridge that gap. You can either get out and go back to your previous ways of what got you incarcerated or you can get out and reinvent yourself," Alexander said.
Alexander says he didn’t have an event like it to come to when he was released but he was able to find support from his family and the community.
He has started two businesses, earned an associate's degree in information technology and is working toward his bachelor's degree in the same field.
The first Re-entry Resource Fair took place in 2019 but the pandemic forced organizers to forgo having one in 2020.
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