TEAM UP! Program Builds Bridges for Understanding

L to R: Kevin Fitzpatrick, Director of OJP; Carnell Wright (front); Martin Gutierrez, CCANO VP of Mission & Community Engagement; Roxelle Verdin; Kiana Calloway (front); and Earl Hagans.

The Office of Justice and Peace at Catholic Charities was the first of 32 organizations to complete work on Team Up, a pilot program from Catholic Charities USA, which brings together people of differing backgrounds to engage in meaningful conversation to effect change in a polarized society.

With a special emphasis placed on including people who have been marginalized in society, four formerly incarcerated people partnered with members of the Race, Equity, and Reconciliation Committee of the Jefferson Community Foundation. They gathered for three luncheons during the last few months of 2023.

The goals were to build compassion and empathy for returning citizens among the Committee members of the Jefferson Community Foundation, and to encourage Committee members to advocate on behalf of formerly incarcerated men and women for better access to housing, jobs and services.