The GCHH NEW FREEDOM PROJECT
The Inreach process sparks hope by building relationships with those still incarcerated. Our friends at Gold Canyon Heart & Home (GCHH) have a Communications department dedicated to this process. Their team works directly with inmates until their release. When contact is first made, there is no telling how far out an individual’s release date may be. So the process could be a 2-month or a 20-year process. Having someone on the other side helps lay the foundation for successful reentry by offering guidance throughout the journey. For some, becoming a productive member of the community means creating a better version of a life previously lived. For others, it’s creating a brand new experience and attaining something they never believed possible.
GCHH’s Communications department was started by the aspirations of Denise McDonald who initially was writing over 1,000 inmates on her own. Now as the Director of Communications, her heart’s passion is followed by a full staff of mentor letter-writers who have taken her lead with caseloads of 200-450 inmates each.
The GCHH New Freedom Project is a peer mentorship program that supports those incarcerated, helping prepare them for their release, easing their transition back into the “real world”. The GCHH New Freedom Project involves continuous communication through letter writing and active participation in our curriculum. Lessons range from goal setting to building healthy support systems. These materials are a way to allow our mentees to begin to assess their needs and plan for the day they reenter society. There is a lot to consider and our mentors are here to support each and every person in their journey home.
PRISON VISITS &
Our teams often visit the units in person to meet the mentees and bring in 12-step groups. We also utilize video meetings with units across the state to answer the questions of inmates and staff as well as present program details so that our mentees know what is required and what they can expect upon arrival. Knowledge is power and the commitment to attend New Freedom is one of the most impactful decisions they can make in their journey to build a better life.
We use information shared by individuals along with their assessment results to build a release plan, referring qualified candidates to New Freedom. We work closely with Corrections staff and family members to support the mentee in making the best possible decisions for their new life. Our transportation team picks up mentees at the prison gates and brings them to the New Freedom facility, where we offer on-site parole check-in.
WELCOME to A
The function of Inreach is to motivate the inmate and plant the seeds of success long before they’re released. In our experience, the only way to reduce recidivism is to inspire change in inmate culture. The change must happen before they’re released. Though getting to New Freedom may be at the heart of the inmate’s goal, our goal is to get at the inmate’s hearts well before they get to New Freedom. We commend each of our members in their decision to create the life they deserve and we support them through the entire process.
“I am so grateful for New Freedom Project (GCHH NFP) and the life-changing experience they gave me. As an inmate on the yard with no family and no support system, I had no one to send me letters. Having burned all my bridges in addiction, I was doing seven-year prison sentence all alone. The GCHH NFP gave me hope when I was hopeless. I thought no one in this world cared about me or even loved me anymore. I put my first letter in the mailbox to GCHH NFP not thinking much of it. Within a week, I received a hand-written letter from the GCHH NFP’s Director Denise McDonald. It was personal to me for the first time. I began to feel like someone cared about me. I received letters up until my release date and they were there to pick me up at the gate. Most will never understand what it is like to go from prison to the streets. With no family or support its easy to get stuck on repeating loop back straight back to prison. GCHH NFP is breaking that cycle.
Upon my release, GCHH NFP referred me to a 90-day reentry program housed at New Freedom’s Facility. I was greeted with hugs and everyone telling me “welcome home.” For the first time, I felt accepted and at peace. I started believing I was meant for something more. I had purpose and direction. The helped me become Peer Support certified and I was able to find employment as a Behavioral Health Technician now working with recovering addicts and people with mental illness.
I go back into the prisons once a month through virtual Zoom meetings talking to inmates about changing their lives. My sole purpose is to inspire others with the same hope GCHH NFP inspired in me. I volunteer at the New Freedom facility every week, giving back to the community that changed my life. I have a family now and thanks to their love and support I continue to thrive. All I can say is thank you GCHH NFP.”
– Justin Frakes | Graduated May 2021
This page was inspired by GCHH Staff, Matt Barrick.
Released August 2018
25.5 Years Served