Founded in 2008, The Garden of Hope Community Development Corporation (The Garden of Hope) serves a vital role in the health and sustainability of the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office programming for incarcerated parents and their families. The Garden of Hope is a local faith-based organization that provides services, programs, and resources to families and individuals experiencing social, economic, and moral hardships. Its mission is to build healthy neighborhoods and healthy relationships by providing services and programs for disadvantaged individuals, families, communities, and under-served youth.3
Since the program was first awarded funding through the Second Chance Act, The Garden of Hope has partnered with the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office to support the implementation of Second Chances. Because the Norfolk city jail does not have capacity for and therefore does not allow contact visitation, participants of the program are transported to the Garden of Hope’s facility to have contact with their children and families off-site. This off-site visitation occurs once a month.
In addition to hosting the off-site visitation component of Second Chances, The Garden of Hope also collaborates with the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office toward the successful implementation of the program in the following ways:
- Providing housing resources and additional transitional services upon reentry. The housing resources offered to program graduates vary based on community organizations’ availability and capacity at the time of release, but include referrals to organizations who provide temporary housing, emergency shelters, safe homes for victims of domestic abuse, and when available, transitional housing. Additional transitional services include assisting the custodial families with transportation and food.
- Providing support group services. Support group services include guided conversations around life skills and career counseling.
- Needs Assessment for participating incarcerated parents. The Garden of Hope staff work with each participant to discuss their unique case; assess individual abilities, interests, and needs; and identify potential barriers to successful reentry.
Outside of its involvement with the Sheriff’s Office’s Second Chances program, The Garden of Hope also offers a breadth of services to the community, including: summer camps and mentoring programs for youth, job skills training and placement, crisis intervention, relapse prevention groups, substance use treatment, literacy tutoring and G.E.D. preparation classes, financial empowerment trainings, and supportive housing.
Although federal funding for Second Chances ceased in September 2022, The Garden of Hope will remain a key partner of the program long after the initial grant period has expired. They have agreed to continue providing their building as an off-site location for contact visitation with families of incarcerated individuals free of charge. The Garden of Hope’s only stipulation to their continued support is that the program expand its reach to include incarcerated mothers — an expansion that is wholly supported by the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office and has long been a top priority as they look toward the future of the program.
3 The Garden of Hope Community Development Corporation. (n.d.). Building Bridges & Breaking Cycles. Retrieved from https://gardenofhopecdc.org/about/