On Oct. 11, Boaz & Ruth will host its 2nd Annual “Long Walk to Freedom” to raise awareness of and funds for programs supporting successful reentry into Richmond from incarceration. The walk will travel along Oliver Hill Way, beginning at Richmond City Jail and ending at Freedom House’s Conrad Center.
Boaz & Ruth works with formerly incarcerated men and women to equip them with the basics for building new responses to challenges after release. In a comprehensive and coordinated program, Boaz & Ruth serves as the “flagship” for several businesses to build relationships and provide training that qualifies individuals for transitional jobs, ultimately boosting the area’s economy. When formerly blighted buildings are restored to make room for businesses, the process even nurtures the physical revitalization of Richmond.
William R. Rollins, Media Coordinator for Boaz & Ruth says, “Every week, 200 prisoners are released from Richmond City Jail, and 63 percent of the area’s homeless population is comprised of former inmates.” That’s enough to rank Richmond among the top 100 metropolitan areas nationally receiving returning non-violent prisoners. Yet when unable to secure living essentials – housing, food, employment – many ex-offenders return to prison, at an annual cost to the community of about $30,000 per person. Solutions to help women and men establish productive lives are essential. The Long Walk to Freedom will highlight many of them.
“At the end of the walk there are going to be seventeen solutions providers,” William says. Solutions will address housing, food, family restoration, transportation, identification, self esteem, addiction recovery, and more.
The public is invited to join Boaz & Ruth’s team of formerly incarcerated men and women, First Market Bank leaders, representatives from key human services agencies, and members of law enforcement to participate in the event. As part of its effort to raise funds, artwork created by inmates will be auctioned. “Some of these pieces are great,” William says. Much of it is available for viewing at area libraries, including Main Library, North Side, Belmont, Hull Street, and Westover Hills. Some can be viewed online at www.BoazAndRuth.com/auction.cfm
If you’re interested in restorative justice, know someone who’s been incarcerated, or simply want to see a better quality of life in Richmond, William says, “Join us to take the Long Walk to Freedom. That will really open up some eyes in terms of showing how these individuals, they just happened to make a choice that was not the right thing to do. Sometimes people need a second chance. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Participation costs a minimum donation of $15 that will go to support the programs. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. Walk begins at 8:30, with closing ceremonies at 11 a.m. For info or to volunteer, email, LongWalkToFreedom@BoazAndRuth.com
Boaz & Ruth, 3030 Meadowbridge Rd. 329-4900