Photo by Leonie Wise/Unsplash

United Way grant provides grocery gift cards for former inmates

Program is being handled by Abbotsford-based M2/W2 Association

The M2/W2 Association in Abbotsford has provided grocery story gift cards to approximately 50 former prisoners in the Fraser Valley and Greater Vancouver.

Among the recipients are 15 members of M2/W2’s No One Leaves Alone (NOLA) community reintegration program.

The organization previously announced that it had received a $25,000 grant from United Way of the Lower Mainland to supply groceries to former prisoners living in the community.

Since then, some gift cards have been sent through the mail or via parole officers. Others have been delivered in person.

Andrew Brintnell, who coordinates the food security program for M2/W2, said dropping off the cards in person is a chance to get to know the people receiving them.

“That’s been a blessing,” he said. “Some of the men are on their way to recovery. They’re trying to make ends meet. They’ve been set free from shame and condemnation, and are moving away from the identity of being a criminal. It’s wonderful.”

Still, many continue to struggle with the transition from prison to everyday life. Jake, whose name and details have been changed to protect his identity, is originally from outside of B.C. and spent 15 years in prisons across Canada.

Through a referral from his parole officer, Jake connected with M2/W2.

RELATED: United Way grant provides food to 100 former prisoners, families

“He’s been transferred around,” Brintnell said. “He’s dealing with the effects of years spent in correctional institutions. For example, he often feels isolated and finds it difficult to communicate with others.”

The loneliness of being incarcerated can persist after release. When Jake got out of prison, he said he felt like no one cared.

He said that he goes on with his life and it feels like he doesn’t exist. The grocery gift cards brought Brintnell to Jake, and he is grateful for both the food and the company.

“It shows him that people do care,” Brintnell said.

In the coming weeks, M2/W2 will continue to connect with more former prisoners and expand the impacts of the grant.

“At M2/W2, we are in a unique position to help formerly incarcerated people access the food they need,” said Raymond Robyn, M2/W2’s executive director. “This grant empowers us to do just that—and share hope and companionship at the same time.”

M2/W2 runs three programs: an in-prison mentorship program, NOLA and the Hidden Treasures Thrift Store in Abbotsford and Chilliwack.

NOLA connects former prisoners with people in the community, usually three or four volunteers and a case manager, who guide and empower the NOLA member as they transition from institutional life.

RELATED: No One Leaves Alone program matches inmates with volunteers

Charity and DonationsUnited Way

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Four activists face charges linked to 2019 Abbotsford hog-farm protest

Mischief and break-and-enter charges laid for incidents on four separate days prior to the protest

Three men face attempted murder charges after Harrison Hot Springs stabbing

Man, 24, sent to hospital with life-threatening injuries following attack Wednesday

‘Tiny home’ being built for Abbotsford woman with severe allergies

Online campaign raises $59,000 for custom cargo trailer for Katie Hobson

Chilliwack children can get tested locally, Fraser Health confirms

Erroneous information online and via 811 has many families driving to Abbotsford for testing

Face masks will be mandatory for customers at all Walmart locations

Requirement goes into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 12 across Canada

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Canada vows retaliatory measures as Trump restores tariff on Canadian aluminum

The new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement that replaced NAFTA went into force on July 1

Canada ‘profoundly concerned’ over China death sentence for citizen in drug case

Police later confiscated more than 120 kilograms of the drug from Xu Weihong’s home

Answers to 5 common questions facing families for the COVID-19 school year

COVID-19 protocols are likely to vary even more at the school board level, and even and school-to-school.

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Acclaimed B.C. actor Brent Carver passes away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors with a career spanning 40 years, passed away at home in Cranbrook

Most Read