NASHVILLE, TN — Dismas, Inc., has been awarded a $90,472 grant on behalf of the Tennessee Community CARES Program to serve the re-entry community and keep them safe during the pandemic. Dismas provides basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing and transportation to formerly incarcerated men from 14 prisons and jails in Tennessee to transition back into society. The grant will be applied to groceries, COVID-19 personal use items, additional COVID-19 janitorial supplies and upgrades to IT infrastructure to accommodate the shift to online programming for residents including mental health assessments, group therapy, cross-fit classes and  job readiness training.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) awarded grant assistance to 656 non-profit organizations serving communities across the state. These grants are provided through the Tennessee Community CARES Program, created by TDHS along with Governor Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group, to invest $150 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds to address health and economic needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic.      

“We’re grateful to the Tennessee Department of Human Services for administering these funds and to the United Way of Greater Nashville for selecting Dismas as a recipient,” says Kay Kretsch, Interim CEO, Dismas, Inc. “We’re on the frontlines helping some of our most vulnerable citizens get back on their feet and navigate a pandemic.” 

Dismas had to create a quarantine area for all new arrivals who are kept isolated, tested for COVID-19 and upon receipt of a negative test result, join the resident population. Resident rooms are limited to one person (rather than two) and there is a daily cleaning protocol in all common areas to reduce exposure. Dismas will serve between 60-70 men from March 1st to November 15th and have a 50% reduced bed capacity through December 2020 to limit the spread of COVID-19.   

Dismas, Inc., provides a temporary home and support services for men returning to society from Tennessee prisons and jails. Dismas has served more than 1,000 formerly incarcerated individuals. Nationally, almost 80 percent of former inmates are rearrested within three years and 50 percent return to prison. Eighty-seven percent of Dismas program graduates have remained free from 2015 to 2018. 

Founded in Nashville in 1974 by the late Father Jack Hickey, a Vanderbilt University chaplain, Dismas, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides housing and support services to formerly incarcerated men. Dismas provides not only room and board but also life skills mentoring, access to employment, mental health assessments, behavioral counseling and educational programming—all critical services to help former offenders make a successful transition back into the community. 

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