A New Way of Life Reentry Project (ANWOL) is a grassroots, nonprofit organization founded in 1998 by Susan Burton. Susan was formerly incarcerated; trapped in the criminal justice system for two decades before finding freedom and sobriety in 1997. She has since made it her life’s mission to help other women adversely affected by the problems of incarceration and addiction by providing them with safety, support, and a second chance. For her efforts, she was named a CNN Top Ten Hero for 2010. She was also awarded the prestigious Citizen Activist Award from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
The mission of ANWOL is to help women and girls break the cycle of entrapment in the criminal justice system and lead healthy and satisfying lives.
The organization’s goals are to:
1. Provide clean, safe, sober home environments where formerly incarcerated women and their children feel welcomed and supported in their transition to becoming independent members of the community;
2. Offer education, job training and skill-building opportunities for women to prepare them for self-sufficiency; and
3. Serve as a leader and community advocate for the rights of women inmates, and formerly incarcerated people and their families.
ANWOL is having great success in providing community-based reentry services for formerly incarcerated women. During 2011, our five reentry homes served a total of 40 women and 13 children. We were able to provide services at about 1/3 the cost of incarceration. On average, seven out of every 10 women who receive our services are able to maintain sobriety and make successful community reentries. Our program is cost-effective and it works.
Our Supportive Reentry Housing Program offers a network of five safe reentry homes in South Los Angeles that provide essential services for up to 25 formerly incarcerated women and their children at a time. Women are provided with pickups from jail or prison, transportation to their appointments, referrals to community services and assistance/advocacy to navigate helping systems. They receive all the necessities of daily living such as healthy meals, clothing and toiletries. They are provided with access to 12-step recovery programs, job training, education, computer training, personal empowerment, financial planning and communication-building workshops – all designed to facilitate their self-sufficiency.
Women separated from their children while incarcerated are further aided through our Family Reunification Program. Our staff social worker and social work interns assist our women residents along every step of the journey to reunification. They are provided with supports needed to comply with the demands of the Court and DCFS.
As the women continue on their journey toward self-sufficiency, our housing advocate works to ultimately assist them with finding, then accessing permanent housing. As they transition to permanent housing, women residents are able to utilize the services of our Distribution Center. Through a relationship with a major retailer of household goods, we receive weekly donations of high-quality items. Our women residents are able to shop for everything from baby blankets to toasters, lamps, space heaters, trashcans, pots, pans, and plates. Many of them are moving into permanent housing for the first time in their lives and would be unable, without the help of the Distribution Center, to acquire the items needed to furnish their new homes. Distribution services are also offered to the larger community of people affected by homelessness as they too transition into permanent housing.
To date, at least 600 women and children have found safety and support in our reentry homes. A minimum of 150 women and their children have been reunited. Over 1,000 formerly homeless individuals and families have been able to furnish their new homes through our distribution center.