Restorative Community Coalition
Working with citizens in need in our community.

(formerly: ReEntry Coalition of Whatcom County)


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The RestoreALife Center is the vision of Irene Morgan, founder of the Restorative CommUnity Coalition in 2006. While researching programs from across the nation she found Delancey Street in San Francisco, ( a successful housing, education and employment program that works with returning citizens from incarceration and conviction histories.

This two (2) year program was one of the finest in the nation with an 80% success record. With this discovery, it became Irene's vision for Whatcom County, to create the RestoreALife Center for our formerly incarcerated citizens and those at risk. Described below is the three (3) part program she envisions.

Housing is the greatest need for people with conviction histories. When one is safe, warm, fed and with a good nights sleep one is more likely to be able to meet the requirements of obtaining employment or enrolling in educational classes and training to further ensure a stable life style. Housing re-entry folks in a structured environment is crucial for their success, as they have been in highly structured facilities with little opportunity to think independently. Since long periods of incarceration can cause institutionalization there is a great need for a wind down and healing process as they re-acclimate to society and its demands.

Many do not have the life skills needed to be successful therefore the need for the lengthy program life. There will be case management with training in how to prepare for a full day of work, training or education, grooming, budgeting, career management, and volunteer opportunities to give back to community.

Education and Employment is essential for successful reentry from incarceration. Some 40% of our inmates are second grade educated, so the need for education is beyond gaining a GED; many have little basic reading, writing and math skills and will need tutoring. This will be a priority for without basic skills, success is unlikely.

For those who wish to further their education or learn trades, they will enroll in local classes. For those who have no trade we will employ them in the 10 or 12 businesses we develop. We will work with existing employers, entrepreneurs, create new businesses and employment opportunities.

Wellness and Recovery Center is primary for emotional, physical and psychological healing. Trauma is at the root of all dysfunction and stress is the cause of most failures. Our Wellness and Recovery Center will encourage our residents to retrain their habits for a healthier lifestyle; exercise, eating and nutritional shopping habits, relationships, self- empowerment, volunteer opportunities, alternative healing modalities and introspection.

Another segment of the Wellness and Recover Center is the Freedom Farm, where our residents will discover, possibly for the first time, their connection to the earth, where they can interact with animals, plants, and streams, plant a garden and harvest the vegetables/herbs and prepare a meal, milk a goat or cow, gather eggs from chickens/foul, ride a horse, etc. Many studies show that connection with nature is one of the most healing actions possible.

When they are ready to leave the RestoreALife Center they will have the skills and employment training needed to be a fully functional member of society and taxpayer. They will have gained self knowledge, stability and capacity for their future success in life.

We will have a "graduates club" that will allow former residents to continue to interact with the RestoreALife Center for regular maintenance and to encourage those newcomers that it is also possible for them to achieve their goals.

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We have a business plan for property that is available for purchase. The facility will accommodate 35 to 40 people that could be moved from the current jail. The metrics show we will be profit generating in 3 years. This is a win, win, win for our community.

While contemplating the future of this organization and where we might take it, I am able to see clearly what I envision in the future.

After we formed in December of 2006, and as I researched more re-entry and aftercare programs I formulated my own rendition for Bellingham and Whatcom County. I see:

1 - A Delancy Street (San Francisco) type model with housing, employment, case management, education opportunities, job training, life skills training and volunteer or pay-it-forward requirements.
  • We will obtain housing units and/or build new or remodel units.
  • We will work with existing employers and entrepreneurs, create new businesses and employment opportunities.
  • We will train and educate with existing employers or training centers or create new businesses for this purpose.
  • We will make time available for GED prep and literacy skills outside employment times.
  • We will include life skills classes and integrate into all aspects of opportunities.
  • We will require that all participants help others who enter our programs to ensure the success of the whole. There will be outside volunteer opportunities.

2 - As we have moved forward and I've seen the statistics of our prison population I have real-eyesed that a large portion of our prison population is the mentally ill. Our mental institutions were closed in the 1970's by mandate of the federal government. I have not been able to understand this decision.

A VERY simple solution is to place the mentally ill in separate housing where they can live as independently as possible. If they are not able to care for themselves then we place them in a group home where they are cared for as needed with dignity and respect. When those who are able to stabilize do so, they can move into separate or other less managed homes or facilities. This is FAR more respectful, less harmful to the person AND the public.

This kind of housing for the mentally ill is a cost savings in all areas. They will be safer and better cared for. The public will be safer with fewer tax dollars spent as they revolve through our system with the same outcome, repeatedly.

3 - Again as I have perused the system and it's statistics the numbers of drug and alcohol offences is staggering. As I hear of the numbers of repeated trips to the treatment centers I am appalled. I envision a center of natural healing for those with addictions of any kind, fashioned after successful centers like Passages in Malibu, California,. and Joan Mathews Larson's Health Recovery Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

I believe with this three-pronged approach we will be one of the most successful programs in our country. The best part is that it is duplicatable and saves not only dollars but more importantly - LIVES!!!!

I invite anyone who shares even a portion of this vision to join us in our cause. For more information, call Irene Morgan 360-354-3653.

Joy's comments

We will use the resources of the newly released prisoners, or certain capable homeless population to do the actual building or reconstruction of the facilities.
  • That whereever possible we will employ the very people we are striving to support in the process.
  • We are also looking at all times for opportunities to build the systems using entrepreneurial and self-reliance business models.
  • That we will strive to find alternative nutritional & healing support, new models for mentorship and coaching, and do green building models.
In other words...we are outside the box in all categories and are looking for the most progressive, cutting edge of everything we do.