Celebrating the announcement of $1.23 million in funding for the No One Leaves Alone (NOLA) project are (from left) program director Krystal Poje, MP Jati Sidhu, M2/W2 executive director Raymond Robyn, and M2/W2 board chair Arnie Melissen. (Vikki Hopes/Abbotsford News)

Offender reintegration program gets $1.23 million in federal funding

Abbotsford-based No One Leaves Alone project also serves Mission, Chilliwack and Langley

The federal government today announced $1.23 million in funding for an Abbotsford-based project that helps newly released offenders reintegrate into the Fraser Valley.

MP Jati Sidhu (Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon) said the No One Leaves Alone (NOLA) Reintegration Project, run by M2W2 Association Restorative Christian Ministries, is expected to help 35 to 40 men and women ages 18 to 55 to make the transition from prison to living in their communities.

The individuals will be assisted with things such as finding suitable housing and stable employment; getting help for addiction or mental illnesses; and accessing education and skills training.

The project, which began its work in 2018 and is supported by volunteers, will serve Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack and Langley.

Sidhu announced the funding – provided from the federal government’s Crime Prevention Action Fund through the Ministry of Public Safety – during a press conference at Garden Park Tower in Abbotsford.

RELATED: No One Leaves Alone program matches inmates with volunteers

“Evidence tells us that prevention and reintegration programming can lead to fewer repeat offenders, fewer victims and, ultimately, safer communities,” he said.

“If we can help former inmates become productive law-abiding citizens, we absolutely should.”

NOLA program director Krystal Poje said that many men and women leaving jail will eventually return.

“Generally, these individuals do not have a healthy support system (or) the needs and/or skills needed for successful reintegration; thus, the prison gates become revolving doors,” she said.

“Research has shown that with a circle of support, the transformation process for offenders, as they reintegrate into community, is successful.”

Poje said NOLA involves three to five trained volunteers and staff meeting with an offender on a regular basis for 18 months, developing goals and working on creating a “secure, pro-social network.”

She said the program is monitored by a doctor from University of the Fraser Valley.

Arnie Melissen, chair of the M2/W2 board, said the organization is the ideal partner for the project, as it has spent the last 53 years mentoring and supporting individuals as they reintegrate into communities.

“This funding will help us focus more clearly on that specific task, and apply more resources to it to increase the number of offenders whose lives we can touch,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sidhu said he is pushing for funding to be reinstated for another Abbotsford crime-prevention program.

The In It Together program – aimed at preventing youths from becoming involved in gangs and crime – lost federal funding at the end of September.

If they are approved for new funding, that won’t start until this April, but there has been no commitment on that yet.

“I’m very hopeful … It’s on the map. I don’t know when, but I’m pushing hard,” Sidhu said.

RELATED: Funding is running out for Abbotsford gang-prevention program

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

Just Posted

DNA confirms SUV struck and killed Abbotsford cyclist in 2015, court hears

Kerry Froese operated company that owned vehicle that struck and killed Ronald James Scott in 2015

Trial begins for Abbotsford chicken farmer charged with 2015 fatal hit-and-run

Kerry Froese is charged with hitting cyclist Ronald Scott on Mt. Lehman Road

Elton John, Billy Joel perform in Mission – sort of!

Impersonator Ryan Langevin sang at the Clarke Theatre on Saturday night

UFV offers mental-health screenings as part of Beyond the Blues

Activities at event from Jan. 27-31 include stress bingos and colouring

Second earthquake in two days strikes near Agassiz

A 2.6-magnitude recorded Saturday morning

VIDEO: Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus officially confirmed

Both patient and wife arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

First-place Canucks beat Blues 3-1 for ninth straight home win

Miller nets pair as Vancouver defeats Cup champs

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Police search for man who went missing from Vernon hotel

Jay Rosenberger, 38, was last seen Friday

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sex assaults linked, RCMP ask women not to walk alone in Coquitlam park

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

BC Place lights up in purple and yellow to honour Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash

Whistleblower says Iranian-Americans questioned at Peace Arch crossing were targeted

Immigration lawyer says response from Customs Border Protection is a ‘total cover up’

Most Read