On any given Friday morning during the spring semester, Temple Law School bustles with the usual business of a law school: classes, meetings, study groups, and lots of reading. But March 29, 2019 was not business as usual. On this day, Klein Hall played host to a services and career fair for returning citizens organized by Players Coalition and Impact Services. At the fair, 40 returning citizens met with 20 social service organizations, among them the Temple Legal Aid Office; and more than 50 employers who were prepared to hire qualified candidates on the spot. As of noon, the halfway point for the event, Impact Services reported that 17 hires had been made.
After noting how much work had gone into planning the day, Ed Hamilton, a staff member at Impact Services, smiled broadly at the thought of what they had accomplished. It was, he concluded, “a monumental success.”
Professor Ken Jacobsen, who works closely with the Players Coalition, initiated and led Temple Law’s participation in the event. For Professor Jacobsen, the “relationship between the Players Coalition and Temple Law is a natural one, based on a strong shared commitment to social justice.”
Eagles Safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod were on hand to meet with returning citizens, and spoke on behalf of the Players Coalition at a press conference about the event. “Every year, thousands of people return home from prison facing countless obstacles. Difficulty getting a job, finding a place to live, getting proper clothes, and much more. Today, these organizations and employers created an ecosystem of support, and we at the Players Coalition were so proud to stand with them as we worked to overcome those obstacles and provide jobs and other services to people who are finally re-joining their family,” Jenkins remarked, adding: “to the groups who are here today as part of that ecosystem of support, we say ‘thank you;’ to those returning home, we say ‘welcome.’”
“Not only does our community wrap their arms around those who are returning home, but this community also provides critical services for families who have loved ones who are locked up. The burden on families is tremendous,” said McLeod. “They must fill the financial gap left by losing a wage earner, they must shoulder the burden of child care and care for the rest of the family, and they lose the support of a loved one. It is critical, then, that we provide help and hope for families who have loved ones go to prison, and that we continue providing support as people come home. Today, we aimed to do that.”
Darren Thompson, Director of Workforce Development at Impact Services, took a similar view, remarking, “People say it takes a village to raise a child. The truth is that it takes a village to support all people who are working towards change and personal growth. We need to create a collaborative network with value-aligned partners to help people achieve their goals. We need to work as a village.”
Also present at the press conference were Julie Wertheimer, Deputy Managing Director for Criminal Justice and Public Safety for the City of Philadelphia; Dorothy Johnson-Speight, Founder of Mothers in Charge, Inc.; Darrell Briddell, a client at Impact Services; and Keir Bradford-Grey, Chief Public Defender of Philadelphia, who put today’s event in context. “The reality is that men and women in our jails leave more desperate, without resources and supports they need to get back to their lives. Today’s event demonstrates the powerful role of community in helping our returning citizens succeed and making neighborhoods stronger and safer. But re-entry services are only one piece of the puzzle,” she said. “The Defender Association is working with community groups on a pre-entry model that addresses a person’s needs on the front end of the criminal justice system – which will lead to better outcomes system-wide. By reducing the number of people who sit in jail pretrial, we can tailor re-entry services to better support people who need them most. We are proud to continue our partnership with Malcolm Jenkins and the Players Coalition to shine a light on the community’s essential role in criminal justice reform.”
About Players Coalition
Players Coalition is an independent 501(c)(3) (charity) and 501(c)(4) (advocacy) organization, working with professional athletes, coaches and owners across leagues to improve social justice and racial equality in our country. The work is focused on three key pillars: Police & Community Relations, Criminal Justice Reform and Education & Economic Advancement. Players Coalition is solution-oriented, and members invest significant time and resources to educate themselves on various issues impacting their communities to identify where their influence can have the greatest impact. In 2017, the Players Coalition was co-founded by NFL Pro-Bowl Safety and 2017 NFLPA Byron “Whizzer” White winner Malcolm Jenkins and retired wide receiver and NFL 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year winner Anquan Boldin. Players Coalition continues to grow in numbers of ambassadors with the collective goal of making an impact on federal, state and local levels through advocacy, engagement and providing resources. For more information follow @playerscoalition on Instagram and Facebook and @playercoalition on Twitter.
About Impact Services
Impact Services is a non-profit organization that empowers people in need to attain the hope, motivation, and skills necessary to reach their fullest human potential and highest level of personal and family self-sufficiency. Impact Services has worked with many of the attendees to help prepare them for release and has provided pre-event job training and case assistance for each participant.
Pictured above, left to right: Julie Wertheimer, Darrell Briddell, Darren Thompson, Rodney McLeod, Malcolm Jenkins, Keir Bradford-Grey, Dorothy Johnson-Speight.