Rebuilding Lives After Prison at The Fortune Society
For 50 years, The Fortune Society has been helping people who are or have been incarcerated reenter society and thrive.
“We are one of the nation’s preeminent reentry services organizations providing nearly 7000 people annually with services they need to break the cycle of incarceration and build productive lives in their community,” says Kristin Pulkkinen, the director of major gifts for The Fortune Society.
To address the complex, overlapping needs of their clients, The Fortune Society runs a dozen different programs. Providing access to affordable housing, education opportunities, employment training, family services and more.
“We accept anyone who walks through our doors who’s had involvement with the justice system,” she says.
“We have people who may have spent forty years in prison and are coming out homeless and need housing and need to be introduced to a whole new world.”
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The first 90 days after someone’s release from prison is the most crucial time for them to have help getting settled, according to Pulkkinen.
“When people who walk through our doors, we immediately connect them with life-stabilizing services,” she says.
After assessing new clients’ needs, The Fortune Society provides them with a hot meal and other essentials to help them feel welcome in the community.
“We serve three meals a day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And it’s always a joyous room where everyone is eating and talking to each other -- it’s very happy” says Pulkkinen. “Our founder David Rothenberg, always like to comment that it’s the exact opposite of what a mess-hall would be like in prison.”
Part of what makes The Fortune Society unique in their approach to helping their clients successfully rebuild their lives after incarceration is both the variety of programs, but also the people running them.
“Half our staff is formerly incarcerated and it’s something that has been true since our founding,” says Pulkkinen.
“We’ve found that people who have been through that struggle are the best people to help others through it. Our staff and clients are the ones who really determine our programs that we put in place. It’s their needs that determine what we build.”
The sense of accomplishment at The Fortune Society is contagious. When their clients succeed, it means success for the whole organization and they don’t hesitate to celebrate their victories.
“We have an employment services program, which has a two-week job-readiness training, but also hard skills training like green construction, culinary arts, commercial driver’s license [training],” Pulkkinen says. “There are graduations for these programs and the staff is always invited to sit in on those.”
Clients often invite their family members to the ceremony to watch them graduation.
“It’s a really beautiful moment for them to be proud of the accomplishment in front of their family,” says Pulkkinen.
When it comes to supporting The Fortune Society on Tendr, Pulkkinen says that people can feel great about how the money they raise is used.
“We have 12 different programs and money from individuals is always put where it’s needed most,” she says. The donations go directly toward running life-changing services like the education, employment services, counseling, and family services programs -- among others.
Pulkkinen believes a charity registry makes it easier to give to charities like The Fortune Society.
“This is an easy way to connect them to a really important cause, where they know they’re helping thousands of people rebuild their lives.”
When it comes to adding a charity to your Tendr page, Pulkkinen says The Fortune Society is a great one for folks looking to make a direct, immediate impact on the lives of others.
“I think it’s one of the most important causes we have today. We help so many people re-enter society and help them so they don’t go back into prison and help create safer, happier communities.”