“IOA helped me when I first got out and they help me to this day,” says Claudette. “They told me to stay in contact and that’s what I did. I needed people to talk to and they were there for me. They knew what I was going through — good days and bad days — and they kept me going. I don’t mind talking about it if it’ll help get the word out.”

The Progressive Release Program “educates and advocates.” It begins while clients are detained in the Blue Ridge Regional Jail and continues after their release.

The program develops essential life skills, including anger management, employment training, personal finance and relationships and parenting, while acknowledging the difficulty of applying these skills in the real world.

The program also offers Life Skills classes and Job Readiness classes and consultations helping ex-offenders locate, secure, and retain employment while addressing other outside challenges to employment. Classes and consultations are available upon request.  Classes are also held at The Salvation Army and the Lynchburg Juvenile Detention Center. Call 434.846.6098 for more information.

Aftercare is critical because “life happens.” Newly released ex offenders are frequently overwhelmed by court costs, child support, rent payments — obligations that quickly consume low wages and trigger stresses that revive old habits.

“Fear and isolation compound the problem. So we have to become partners in perseverance, helping people through the transition.”