What's New at The First 72-- December Edition!


A greeting card type image with a pale grey background. Under a clip art wreath hung with ornaments are the words "happy holidays" in red, followed by the First72+ logo and the words "from the First72+"


A Message from our Board of Directors:


"As we approach the end of the year - our second year surviving a global pandemic - it is easy to lose sight of how far we have come and the love and strength that has defined much of this time. But for us at The First 72+, COVID-19 only made more clear what we already knew: above all else, community support is what gets us through. Reentry from incarceration is almost never a straight line. The impact of incarceration on not just the person, but also their family, and the community to which they return, takes not just months, but often years to overcome. And it is only with your support that we as an organization, and the hundreds of clients we have supported over the last 7 years, have made it this far.


Because of your support we are ending the year nearly half way through building a brand new 8-bed transitional house and mixed use facility. Because of your support we have provided free housing to nearly 100 people over the last year. Because of your support we were able to provide tens of thousands of dollars of direct financial assistance to people recently released from prison. Because of your support we have been able to help hundreds of people access identification, vital records, free legal services, and public benefits upon release. Because of your support, this year we will celebrate Christmas Day by welcoming home a new client, released after decades in prison. Because of your support we are joined, every day, by people who used to be clients but now show up as friends, looking to help “the next man up.”

And most importantly, because of your support, we are not just ready, but eager, to keep at it in 2022.


Thank you for having our back through the years, and thanks for sticking by our side into the next.


Sincerely,

The Board of The First 72+"



A Year-End Look:


We've had a big year! Here's a few notable things that have happened at The First 72+ in the last twelve months:

  • We've said goodbye to some staff, including our previous Co-Executive Director Kelly Orians, and hired on some new faces

  • We've experimented with new resources for our clients, such as our technology class to increase digital literacy

  • Hurricane Ida blew through and devastated much of the city, including our transitional houses. However, not only have we been working through this difficulty to keep assisting our clients as best we can, our housing is getting back online and will be joined shortly by our brand new house on Perdido Street


Past Events:

A photograph of our Clients Services Administrator Meagan Jordan sitting at a job fair table with the First72+ banner draped over it

On December 2nd, we set up a booth at Job1's career exposure event for returning citizens. We had a productive time connecting with employers, extending resources to potential clients, and discussing the current employment environment for formerly incarcerated individuals. Community outreach events like these are a crucial part of our commitment to economically empowering our clients and First 72+ family.

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A photograph of co-Executive Director Pastor Tyrone Smith standing and leading a lecture, with coach Claude Hopkins visible behind him and several clients sitting at the table next to him

A photograph of our clients sitting against the wall in our discussion room, listening to the lecture

Just this month, we restarted our Wednesday class and discussion, Nine Steps to Staying Free! This weekly event provides our clients with a chance to meet and talk to each other over lunch, as well as transportation to get I.D.s for those that need it. We've had a lot of fun and moving discussion in our three sessions, and we're excited to find a way to keep doing this in the future, long term!


Future Events:


Coming soon: it's the community feast you all know and love! Starting after the new year, we're bringing back our Fish Fry Fridays, one of our favorite ways to eat, chat, and make connections with our community. We'll have delicious fish plates for sale, and the chance to have some food and fun with your local re-entry services organization is free! Come on out and join us! Stay tuned for details.

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A photograph of the First72+ staff team at the Crescent Card event, accompanied by Mayor LaToya Cantrell and several executives

Economic empowerment is a core part of how we can help our clients here at The First 72+! If you saw our last newsletter, you know that last month we partnered with the City of New Orleans and MoCaFi to introduce the Crescent Card (picture above). We are deeply excited about this and the other opportunities we are spearheading in the new year, namely the re-launch of the RisingFoundations Small Business Incubator in early 2022. We want to encourage emerging entrepreneurs among our clients and their families so that they have the skills and means to start or support their own business. More details on how this program will run and how to apply will be released soon.


A Sneak Peak at Our New House!:


Community Events in December:


Our offices are closed for the last two weeks of December, but that doesn't mean everything is! Here are some free holiday events going on around the end of the month (please observe all COVID-19 guidelines and take the appropriate safety precautions):

  • Holiday on the Boulevard, Dec 17 and 18: Join the Ashe Cultural Arts Center at 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard for a festive event commemorating both Kwanzaa and Christmas! Both days will feature live performances, discussions, fun activities, vendors, and more! For additional information and to RSVP, visit the following link: Holiday on The Boulevard — Ashé Cultural Arts Center

  • Faubourg Holiday Movie Series, Dec 17 and 18: Faubourg Brewery is showing the movies Christmas Vacation (Dec 17) and Polar Express (Dec 18) for free at their brew park! The films start at 5:30pm each night, and be sure to bring lawn chairs or a picnic blanket. Holiday Movie Series

  • French Quarter Holiday Market, Dec 18: Support local businesses by doing your holiday shopping at the FQMA Holiday Market! There will be a wide variety of vendors and you won't want to miss all the festive decorations. FQMA Holiday Market

  • Luna Fête at the Convention Center, Dec 16-19: Its eighth year running, LUNA Fête will feature a stunning light show highlighting the natural beauty of planet Earth. Come to the Convention Center any of the four nights for a fantastic experience! Luna Fête

  • Algiers Point Artistic Porch Crawl, Dec 19: Local artists will be set up on porches throughout the Algiers Point neighborhood for you to look at their pieces, and perhaps take one or two home! Browse around this holiday market for a fun and festive time. An Artistic Porch Crawl: Holiday Edition

  • Caroling in Jackson Square, Dec 19: Who doesn't love a free community singalong? Candles and carol books will be provided to anyone who wants to do some joyous evening caroling! Caroling in Jackson Square

  • Sugar Bowl New Year's Eve Parade, Dec 31: Get hyped to watch Baylor and Ole Miss square off by watching the annual Sugar Bowl NYE parade! A variety of floats and performers will be rolling along the riverfront on New Year's Eve afternoon, so be sure to get there early for a good spot! Allstate Sugar Bowl New Year’s Eve Parade

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Keep up with us on social media, on Facebook at The First 72+ and Instagram at @thefirst72plus, and see the rest of our website (www.first72plus.org) for more information about who we are and what we do.


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