Indy reentry ministry helps men get on their feet after incarceration

INDIANAPOLIS — New Life Development Ministries on Indy’s west side helps men get back on their feet when they get released from prison.

It’s a mission Reverend Eugene Potter started several decades ago in Baltimore, and for the last 14 years, he’s been working back in his hometown of Indianapolis.

“A lot of times, it’s very tough for a man that comes out of prison to get a start. So, our goal is to train and employ,” Potter said.

New Life is a reentry organization located at 28th and Clifton streets. Their focus is on connecting men to resources and helping them set goals. When funding is available they also provide construction training.

“They have a skill set for life. That’s important and we’ve got hundreds of people that we’ve helped, but we need to help thousands,” Potter said.

The ministry has a construction training center on site that was set up right before the pandemic. It’s now being put to use through partnerships with organizations like Kheprw Institute and Indianapolis Urban League.

After two recent cohorts of training with Kheprw, Potter says every person was offered a job.

“That’s 100%. Now that’s men that have had previous criminal histories with all kinds of problems, and every one of them that wanted one, could get a job, Potter said.

In order to help even more men, New Life is in need of additional partnerships and funding. Potter’s long-term goal is to open a construction training school

“It’s going to take a different level of money. It takes us about $250,000 a year to do 50 students,” Potter said.

James Hardin came to New Life a year after getting released from prison back in 2012.

“I’ve always wanted to be a plumber,” Hardin said. “New Life Development Ministry was a real great, powerful tool to lift me to get me going in that direction.”

Hardin says the ministry helped him get his driver’s license, set goals and most importantly develop a mindset to succeed. He now has his own plumbing business.

“This ministry is needed, because not looking down on none of my younger brothers out here, but they need somewhere to go,” Hardin said. “This right here will be a better place to start than for them to be in somebody’s prison.”

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