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Support Message

Your Support Is Important

Your support is so important for the work that we do. While we are reaching more people every day and finally have a stable office at Greater Bethel AME church in the Overtown neighborhood we have been serving. We are so grateful to Pastor Crutcher and Ms. Mitchell for this opportunity and the support they have provided.

A bonus of having this particular space is that the First Methodist Church of Miami has a ministry there. They serve breakfast 4 mornings a week and they have a wonderful clean shower trailer so that people can shower 3x a week. The trailer has 3 stalls, and each has a shower, toilet, and sink. It makes such a difference for people's self-worth and motivation.

We provide outreach in the neighborhood streets once a week. We give out hygiene products, food, water, clothing, and warm things for the cold nights in Miami recently. We try to do intakes on the street and encourage everyone to come into the office for help. The majority of the people we meet have some justice involvement.

We constantly wrestle with the issue of housing. We have people living in the street who are working 2 jobs but cannot afford rent. More and more elderly residents are being forced into the streets because the rent has been raised above their income. The shelters are full and most of the time all we can do is register them for the waiting list for shelter.

We are creating relationships with both the county jail and the state prison systems to cooperate on a plan prior to release, especially for those with chronic illness, HIV, or psychiatric problems. We try to catch everyone as soon as possible because being released to the street is a recipe for recidivism.

We provide mental health counseling, substance use counseling, family counseling, and wrap-around case management services. Most of those being released have no form of ID, which, of course, keeps them from being able to work or get a place to live. So we start at the beginning with a birth certificate which can cost from $25 to $100, depending if we have to order from out of state. With the birth certificate, we can get the Social Security card and then the state ID, which is $25. We help people get their licenses too, that may have been suspended due to fees, so we pay the fees and help them navigate the system.

Even after all of that, their record alone can keep them from finding work or housing. Traumatized people returning to traumatized families in traumatized communities need a lot of love and support. We have people returning after 30 years of incarceration and the whole world is different. We often need to take them by the hand and help navigate the many barriers they face.

There is much work to be done and your support means a lot to us.

Cherry Smart, LCSW
EZRI Executive Director
245 NW 8th St.
Miami, FL 33136
Cell: 786-208-9552
cherry@ezreentryinitiative.org
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