December 31, 2022

December 2022: A Season of Gratitude – The First 72+ Newsletter

The days are getting shorter as the winter solstice approaches, offering us more time for reflection and gratitude. But even as temperatures drop, things are heating up at the First 72+! Read on to find out what we’ve been up to and how you can support our work!

December 2022: A Season of Gratitude – The First 72+ Newsletter

New Faces at the First 72+

A belated and very warm welcome to our newest reentry coach, Darrell Miles. Darrell joined us as a volunteer in October of last year, after returning home from 42.5 years incarcerated at Angola. Since then, Darrell has joined our staff as a reentry coach while also managing pre-release, spearheading our “coaching the coaches” staff development program, and speaking powerfully from his experience at our Wednesday “9 Steps to Staying Free” classes. We are so grateful to have Darrell back home and on our team!

We’re thrilled to be in our sixth year of partnership with Avodah, a national Jewish anti-poverty non-profit. Through Avodah’s Jewish service corps program, Kayla and Talia will provide capacity building support throughout the year as they learn alongside the staff and clients of the First 72+!

Congratulations Chloe! As an Avodah corps member, Chloe assisted innumerable clients in accessing the public benefits that they deserve. Now, she is taking on a new role as programs manager, overseeing our housing voucher and Fountain Fund loan programs. We are very thankful to have Chloe in our corner!

The Transitional House Gets a Fresh Coat of Paint!

Our team had a lot of fun painting the exterior of the transitional house next door. Looking good!

The Ben Smith Welcome Home Center in the Home Stretch

Many of you watched as we broke ground on the Ben Smith Welcome Home Center in May of 2021. Now the building which will serve as a transitional home for 8 men and house culinary and technology classes is in its final stages. We are so grateful for all of our generous donors who have made this expansion possible! Stay tuned for our grand opening!

Staying Healthy for the Holidays

On November 16th, we hosted another in our series of free vaccine clinics. We partnered with the Louisiana Department of Health to bring flu, COVID, and monkeypox vaccines to the First 72+. Clients, staff, and community members joined together to get vaccinated and keep our friends and family safe this holiday season. We’ll be hosting more vaccine clinics in the new year – follow us on Instagram and Facebook to stay in the loop!

Thank You NOLA to Angola!

NOLA to Angola’s annual bike ride has made incredible strides in raising awareness for the challenges the families of those incarcerated face in traveling long distances to visit their loved ones. We are so grateful for the work they have done to mitigate these challenges and reconnect families, and we are thrilled to have been the recipient of their extraordinary fundraising efforts this year! Thank you NOLA to Angola!

Joe is Home for the Holidays

We are deeply grateful to have our friend Joseph Hamilton III back home this holiday season. Joe returned home this summer after being incarcerated for 40 years, six months, and thirteen days. This year, Joe will celebrate with loved ones, knowing he has safe housing, friends to share a meal with and a supportive community by his side at the First 72+ as he rebuilds his life.What is Joe thankful for this holiday season? “Freedom. Cause I never thought I would actually see this day today.” We are so glad that Joe is free to celebrate with us this year and in years to come. Welcome home Joe!

Giving Thanks

This time of year presents an opportunity to pause and express gratitude for the people who have kept our work going. We are thrilled to share the progress we have made in the last few months thanks to our generous supporters – we could not do this without you! We hope you’ll keep us in mind as you find ways to support community organizations working to create a more just and equitable city, state, country, and world. We thank you for continuing to support our work and for spreading the word via social media (we’re on Facebook and Instagram)!

With gratitude,

The First 72+