This year, donations made to PHS on Giving Tuesday, November 27, will support the Roots to Re-entry program and the life-changing training the PHS LandCare team provides to Philadelphia Prison System inmates and Roots to Re-entry graduates. Roots to Re-entry provides citizens transitioning from the Philadelphia Prison System back to their communities with the tools and support they need to obtain meaningful employment in the horticulture and landscape industries.
The impact of this program was recently demonstrated at the New Kensington Community Development Corporation, an organization that cleans, maintains, and manages over 900 vacant land parcels in Fishtown, Kensington, Port Richmond, and beyond as part of the PHS LandCare program.
This season, under the direction of Tiffany Vidra, Crew Leader of NKCDC’s Vacant Land Management team, two recent Roots to Re-entry Bootcamp graduates went above and beyond their duties and achieved a milestone not met by any other graduates before them.
Spring 2018 Bootcamp graduates Perrice Goodlett and Dwoyne Martin started working for NKCDC in early April and continued through October 31. “We’ve worked with Roots to Reentry graduates in the past, but no one has ever completed the season,” says Debbie Kinkead, Executive Associate at NKCDC.
“Perrice impressed me,” says Kinkead. “She always wanted to learn more and she followed our guidance. She fought through a lot of barriers and plans to return next April.”
William Lighter, PHS Project Manager, Community LandCare, notes that “Trainees in the Roots to Re-entry program have to navigate the same challenges in everyday life that we do: transportation issues, child care, health, relationship and community challenges. But they must perform flawlessly at work, without many of the familial supports and social experiences that we take for granted but employ every day.”
“Most often employers expect these graduates to be perfect in attendance, work performance, and cultural assimilation -- while they work under stigma, and often, with no margin for error. The success of these graduates relies as much on our compassionate partners, as it does the hunger and tenacity of these graduates,” Lighter explains.
Over the past three seasons, 100 returning citizens have been placed into jobs with contractors and community organizations cleaning and greening vacant lots through the PHS Philadelphia LandCare program.