CSR’s Alethia Bush, Dante Works said it’s their ‘calling, purpose’
Teamwork makes the dream work, and never before has that been a true statement when it comes to the collaboration of Alethia Bush and Dante Works.
Following their dreams and passion to help others, the pair joined forces several years ago and established the Center for Successful Reentry (CSR), a non-profit organization they founded on the tenets of compassion, servant leadership and public service. Their aim for the organization is to promote stability, empowerment and self-sufficiency to veterans and other adults impacted by a criminal background, chronic homelessness and other barriers to self-sufficiency.
“We believe that those who possess a sincere desire and full commitment to improve their lives can successfully do so with the appropriate support and resources in place to build a foundation for personal success, a healthy, productive lifestyle and ultimately to maintain stability and freedom from incarceration,” explained Bush. Following their beliefs, the pair recently opened a completely rehabilitated six-bedroom facility that houses male Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom war veterans. Under the umbrella of CSR, the House of Veterans, consisting of four homes, will provide a safe and stable foundation of housing, life skills and support services on which recovery, empowerment, and self-sufficiency can be developed.
Open since August 2017, the first house, HOV-1, has been very successful, Works said. HOV-2 is expected to open by mid-February and the remaining two locations by the end of 2018. All located in Homewood, where Works grew up and still resides, he views the facilities as bringing life to a community that is known for taking life.
Pointing out that the houses are remodeled on streets full of abandoned houses and that 24 men’s lives are being renewed, Works said, “We want to be known for giving back.”
Works noted those men will participate in community service projects throughout the neighborhood.
Developed on a foundation of over 20 years of experience, collectively, in the fields of Adult Probation, Social Services and Reentry planning, Bush and Works describe CSR and HOV as being committed to providing a solid foundation on which residents can rebuild their lives. Its services include drug and alcohol treatment, workforce development, family support services, personal and professional development along with the community involvement.
With the goal for the houses to be a “home” and not just a house, each three-story structure will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology, modern amenities and plenty of space for residents to enjoy a comfortable, home-like atmosphere. Properties have six bedrooms, spacious living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, and Internet access. Amenities include a laundry room, auxiliary gym, central air and heating, and landline telephone access for electronic monitoring devices. Being strategically located in Homewood allows the men to participate in the various programs and resources in the community during their reentry process.
Bush and Works’ ultimate vision for CSR is to become a model reentry management organization on a local, regional and national level by reducing recidivism, providing opportunities for self-sufficiency and improving the quality of life for veterans, while producing measurable positive outcomes. Their research indicates that Pittsburgh has a recidivism rate of almost 60 percent. In 2014 there were approximately 50 inmates released from the Allegheny County Jail daily and that within three years of release, it was expected that 52 percent would be re-arrested, and 43 percent would be re-incarcerated. CSR is designed to address the housing, employment, life skills, job-readiness and service coordination needs of the returning citizens.
The founders of CSR and the HOV are experienced, well-informed and educated about the re-integration needs of those released from incarceration and in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. In addition to having access to a host of resources, they have an “up close and personal” view of the gaps that currently exist in the transitional housing facilities and other similar programs intended to serve the population. Their resource bank consists of a collaboration of several individuals, organizations and agencies who are involved in business, social services and other fields relevant to their mission. Groups include Mercy Behavioral Health, Pittsburgh Community Services, Garfield Jubilee, First Step Recovery Homes Inc., Department of Veterans Affairs and Veterans Place of Washington Boulevard, the Veterans Leadership Program, Soldiers On and Veterans Court.
With a Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Point Park University and a Bachelor of Science degree in English/Professional Writing from Slippery Rock University, Bush has developed an array of experiences and resources throughout her career. She currently serves as a Case Manager/Outreach Coordinator at the A. Philip Randolph Institute. She has worked with students, inmates, formerly convicted citizens—males and females—criminal justice professionals, government, faith-based, non-profit professionals and employers. She is a board member of the Young Men and Women’s African Heritage Association and Divine Intervention Ministries and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
Works, a former Allegheny County Parole and Probation Officer, has worked for the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, Western Psychiatric Institutional Clinic and the Hill House Association. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Virginia State University and is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
“What we are doing, we are doing out of passion and operate from our hearts, not because it’s a job,” said Bush. “We have invested our own money in this project, own the four properties and strive to create a family atmosphere for the men that live here.”
“I left my career for a calling,” said Works. “I am living with a purpose and pleasing God as I do it.”
They agree that their partnership is unique. “We work together as a team and complement each other but the bottom line is that we care and are helping people.”
Works encourages veterans of need and anyone interested in donating household items or labor to the HOV to call 412-812-8927.
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