Though the coronavirus outbreak forced temporary closures, EMERGE, a New Haven nonprofit reentry organization, is trying to support its members who have had to stop working by fundraising.   

Incorporated in 2012 by Dan Jusino, EMERGE is a nonprofit reentry program centered in New Haven dedicated to helping formerly incarcerated members by providing paid construction employment opportunities and programs that aim to reduce recidivism. EMERGE’s efforts in normal times are dual-ended: offering work opportunities and building marketable skills for future employment opportunities while also inspiring behavioral change through programs such as literacy and numeracy classes, parenthood classes, job readiness training and personal wellness programs.

EMERGE, a nonprofit reentry program, has decided to temporarily suspend their services to curb the spread of the virus. Though they are contributing to a larger cause in this health crisis, this action will not be inconsequential for many crew members. Suspending services during the program’s busiest season will result in crew members losing a large source of their income.

“[COVID-19] hit just at the same time we normally start ramping up for a lot of different construction contracts,” said Alden Woodcock, the executive director of EMERGE. “In the winter, we’ve been recruiting and training crew members and getting them ready for their spring work, and everyone was anticipating having a certain amount of income during the spring and summer, and [COVID-19] put a stop to that.”

In order to help support crew members during this time, EMERGE, in coordination with the Yale Undergraduate Prison Project and UP Fund, has launched and is spreading the word about a fundraiser for crew members impacted by the crisis. 

“I think it’s our duty as compassionate human beings to support those in our community,” said Sydney Bryant ’23, member of YUPP.

Woodcock told the News that he hoped the fundraiser would raise both funds and awareness for the crew members most affected by the crisis. He hoped that the fundraiser would support and incentivize staying home by alleviating financial pressures as many formerly incarcerated individuals who have recently returned home are unable to find a reliable source of income in the light of this pandemic. Woodcock also pointed out many EMERGE members are unable to receive unemployment benefits or stimulus checks during this crisis.

The pandemic will disproportionately impact certain communities, and “for the people that are tangled up in the criminal justice system, the impact will be far greater,” said Matt Post ’22, co-president of the Yale Undergraduate Prison Project.

“No one is immune to the virus,” he said. “But it would be false to suggest that it’s any kind of equalizer because of who will end up getting sick and who will experience the worst of the economic fallout.”

The fundraiser is part of The Great Give, an annual fundraising event for local nonprofits created by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and the NewAlliance Foundation are providing match dollars toward the fundraiser for every donor.

 

Claire Lee | claire.lee@yale.edu