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EMERGE Connecticut, Inc., is a New Haven based nonprofit Social Enterprise that operates a Transitional Employment Program for formerly incarcerated returning residents. We are a certified Home Improvement Contractor with the ability to hire our “crew members,” as paid employees while simultaneously providing enhanced program and supportive services for an individualized approach to reentry that seeks to end the pattern of recidivism. Our years of experience allow us to provide you with references listed below.
We take our commitment to our crew members seriously; when someone becomes part of our team we commit to them, and we commit to their success. In order to do this, our organization has a number of construction contracts, which we use to train our program participants and provide them with a source of income during their reentry process. Our earned revenue accounts for roughly half of our annual budget, which is supplemented by grants and donations that allow us to provide the program services that are designed to meet the deeper-rooted challenges faced by returning citizens in New Haven.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 has presented us with an unprecedented challenge. Many of our contracts, which are vital sources of income and allow us to pay our crew members have been canceled, and we are unable to fill many existing contracts due to social distancing guidelines. As a result, we are stuck between a rock and hard place, especially because many of our crew members depend on income for EMERGE as a source of income. What’s more is that since spring is the beginning of our season, many program participants have not been working enough over the winter months to be eligible for unemployment, and even if they were eligible to navigate the currently overloaded unemployment system, they would not be able to receive a fraction of what they would be making as part of the spring contracts they’ve been preparing for all winter.
One of the individuals most immediately hit by this new reality is Tim. Tim joined the EMERGE crew in October of 2019. He was able to work consistently on EMERGE’s crews through the end of the fall season, and took advantage of training, programming, talk therapy, and coaching throughout the winter months. In addition, Tim earned an OSHA certificate and a Commercial Driver’s License. Although he was not working consistently on construction sites, Tim showed a level of dedication to his personal development that earned him the lead role in EMERGE’s Tree Planting season with Urban Resources Initiative at the Yale School of Forestry, which was set to start on March 23rd. This was going to earn Tim a minimum of 24 hours per week, and put him in a leadership role. Tim, who was also struggling with an unstable living situation, was finally going to be able to afford a room in an apartment in Hamden and experience some stability for the first time since returning home.
At present we have 13 crew members, including Tim, who are on EMERGE’s payroll. Their safety, of course, is paramount. In order to discourage crew members from attempting to risk their health to replace their anticipated income, EMERGE is currently calling on our community members to help us support them and their families through this difficult time. By hiring an EMERGE crew, or contributing to EMERGE’s Great Give campaign, community members can act in support for our crew members.
Hire an EMERGE crew for your spring projects: Although we are halting all of our anticipated spring contracts, we are still able to provide landscaping services, spring cleanups, fence installations, and other outdoor projects requiring small crews. These projects allow us to enforce the standards of social distancing while still keeping a small number of crew members engaged.
Contribute to our Great Give campaign: From April 6th – May 6th, EMERGE will be raising money to support our crew members’ basic needs during the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven’s annual Great Give campaign. The Community Foundation will be providing match dollars based on number of donations, so no donation is too small. All of the funds raised through the Great Give this year will go directly to supporting the crew members on staff in order to keep them engaged until it is safe to return to regular work and programming. Please follow this link to donate: https://www.thegreatgive.org/organizations/emerge-connecticut
Colleen Murphy-Dunning, Executive Director of Urban Resources Initiative (customer of 10 years)
Henry Dynia, former Director of Design and Construction for Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven (customer of 9 years)
Mark Wilson, Project Manager at Livable City Initiative, City of New Haven
Reference from individual area residents available upon request