Jim Curran, executive director of Dismas of Vermont, Inc. (DOV), has announced the planned March 2021 opening in Rutland of a fifth “Dismas House.”
The new residence, to open in March in Rutland, will be the fifth Dismas House in Vermont working to effect lasting reconciliations between Vermont communities and justice-involved persons.
The facility, to be located on Royce Street, will be dedicated entirely to meeting the unique reintegration challenges facing formerly incarcerated women.
Dismas of Vermont currently operates four residential homes in Vermont that assist individuals transitioning from incarceration back into the community.
The organization, founded 34 years ago by Rita and Frank McCaffrey of Rutland, provides community-based support and encouragement to persons committed to returning to productive roles, all in furtherance of Dismas’ core mission of achieving lasting reconciliation between former offenders and their communities.
Curran, newly selected to serve DOV as its executive director last June, affirmed that the organization’s largely self-funded initiative in Rutland is directed to serving women – a population that often faces unique “reintegration” challenges after release from incarceration.
“For years we have heard of the difficulties of women who become justice involved. As an organization we felt it important to step up, even in these difficult times, to provide women an additional resource when addressing the enormous stresses they face in navigating exits from the criminal justice system.”
The facility at 22 Royce St. in Rutland will be available to females released by the Department of Corrections from all corners of the state.
Dee Bort, chair of DOV’s Rutland Local Council, shared the organization’s enthusiasm around this expansion. “While Dismas has served Rutland directly for decades, this new offering represents a clear reaffirmation of our organization’s commitment to help address the transitional housing and reintegration needs of women and their families. We are blessed to have deep support in the Rutland community and I know that this news will be well received among the many of persons who regularly donate their time, energies and resources to our mission.”
In addition to offering housing, Dismas will provide satellite workspace for Turning Point to provide onsite recovery services to the Royce Street residents. “I cannot imagine a better partner to help support Dismas’ residents,” said Curran. “The opportunities this unique building provides couldn’t be better.”
Tonya Wright, the program supervisor of Turning Point said, “On behalf of the Turning Point Center of Rutland, we would like to express our gratitude and excitement for the opportunity to collaborate with the Dismas House program. With the addition of the new Royce Street Women’s House, we are able to expand our delivery of peer support services.
“Allowing Turning Point staff to set up a satellite office, on site, for 20 hours per week will give us the time and space needed to provide every resident with a recovery coach who can help them find and navigate the resources necessary to overcome their personal barriers to moving forward and maintain recovery.”
The Vermont Dismas organization has been serving former inmates and Vermont communities since 1986. It was then that Dismas opened its first Vermont “house” in Burlington in collaboration with the national Dismas organization, which itself was established in the early 1970s in Nashville, Tennessee.
Since 2002, DOV has operated as a standalone, independent Vermont not-for-profit. DOV currently maintains houses in Burlington, Hartford, Rutland and Winooski. Much of Dismas’ work is done by community volunteers, many of whom in pre-Covid times came to to prepare dinners and interact with residents as they start their individual journeys back into the communities to which they are returning.
As stated on its website, Dismas’ goal is “to learn, to grow, to change and to become the best we can be as individuals and as communities. Across the state, Dismas of Vermont homes provide shelter and support to men and women making the difficult transition from incarceration to new lives.”
Board president Allan Sullivan said, “There was significant attention in the last session in the Vermont Legislature around ensuring that the post-incarceration needs of females are being adequately addressed. As an organization, we have over these last two years also been keenly focused on this need and are thrilled to see these efforts bear fruit through the efforts of Jim and the DOV local house staff leadership teams.”