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Helping Hands Outreach Ministries Offer Hand Up to Formerly Incarcerated

Houston – There is a bright light shining in the Sunnyside community that offers those formerly incarcerated direction and a new pathway to success.

The Helping Hands Outreach Ministries Second Chance Program, run by Mount Hebron Missionary Baptist Church, targets Sunnyside, South Park and areas of Cullen Avenue in the city.

“Our programs are an attempt to expose people to success,” said Rev. Dr. Max A. Miller Jr., Pastor of Mount Hebron MBC. “It is an opportunity for these men and women to see that someone cares and to help and provide an opportunity for a second chance to make a change.”


Grim Realities


The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports the following statistics on recidivism:


  • Within 1 year following placement in 2005 on community supervision, 18% of the federal offenders had been arrested at least once. At the end of the 5-year follow-up period, 43% had been arrested.
  • Among those conditionally released from federal prison, nearly half (47%) were arrested within 5 years, compared to more than three-quarters (77%) of state prisoners released on community supervision.
  • About 3 in 10 federal prisoners released to a term of community supervision returned to prison within 5 years, while nearly 6 in 10 state prisoners conditionally released returned in 5 years.

According to Miller, the programs holds regular second chance workshops every six months and has a continuous training and development program operating at the J.J. Robinson Family Life Center at 4810 Red Bud Street.

Most employers are looking for candidates with training, experience and who are intelligent about the employment and job search process.

Many formerly incarcerated citizens who do their time come out with limited to no leads for employment and even fewer skills to help them land a job.

“They are not getting this kind of training when incarcerated,” he said. “Without the skills, many have nowhere else to go but to turn back to crime.”

Miller said he and volunteers in the program are trying to turn the tide on statistics often stacked against the formerly incarcerated.

“It is important to give then a fair opportunity for employment,” Pastor Miller said. “Our goals are to train them and make sure that things are equal across the board in their preparation for work.”


Helping Hands Training


Some of the training at the life center provide includes improving job preparation skills by teaching individuals how to communicate, do job interviews and prepare resumes and how to prepare and dress for interviews.

Other training involves getting some hands on practice and work in the center that helps trainees get needed experience that candidates can use when applying for jobs.

Those skills involve learning lawn care, yard maintenance and landscaping and sharpening custodial, cleaning and customer service skills.

The Second Chance program helps develop much needed domestic skills and social skills for dealing with women, workplace environments and independent living.

Miller also added the program is active and works with City Councilman member Distict D Dwight Boykins to help individuals ready for workshops and job fairs provided by the city.


Success-The Ultimate Goal


“We feel what we do gives them the break they need to magnify their chances of success,” Miller said. “We want these men and women to take ownership of their lives, their homes, neighborhoods and communities.”

By: Darwin Campbell