OAR Celebrates Decade of Second Chances

OAR Celebrates Decade of Second Chances

OAR "Second Chance" fundraising breakfast.

OAR "Second Chance" fundraising breakfast. Photo contributed

Nearly 600 people joined OAR to celebrate the 10th "Second Chance" Fundraising Breakfast on April 24 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott. Harold Clarke, director of the Virginia Department of Corrections was the keynote speaker with Senators Barbara Favola and Adam Ebbin as the honorary co-chairs.

"The event raised over $101,000 in contributions and pledges and while this event is a huge success for us, we still need to raise about $50,000 between now and the end of June to meet our budget for this fiscal year,” said Heather Pritchett, OAR’s director of development and outreach.

Gwen, formerly incarcerated five times, sat anonymously in the audience listening to her experiences recounted by a storyteller. Gwen had bounced from Registered Nurse to credit card theft and fraud and had ended up on the street and in shelters until landing a job at Macy's. Her criminal background kept her from being able to sign a lease and she ended up back in shelters and avoiding her parole officer. Along the way a social worker suggested she go to OAR where they helped her apply for job openings, gave her Metro fare and assisted with her application for a housing grant. "I've been slowly piecing my life back together and the entire OAR team has been with me every step of the way."

OAR was founded in 1974 as a community-based nonprofit organization. It provides alternative sentencing through Community Service to men and women returning to the community from incarceration and supports participants both pre- and post-release including case management, employment assistance, housing, food and clothing. OAR serves Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church. In fiscal year 2017, OAR served 2,232 individuals, including 1,584 community service participants and 733 reentry participants.