We understand where you've been. Some of us have been right where you are. Re-entry is hard, but at Torchlighters Re-Entry Support we help light the way home for one another.
Torchlighters Re-Entry Support envisions a community where returning citizens (a.k.a. formerly incarcerated people) are welcomed with open arms and given support to thrive in their new lives. When incarcerated people are released in Gainesville, Florida, their return to society is met with closed doors. Barriers to employment, housing discrimination, and social stigma often cause returning citizens to become homeless or cycle back through the justice system. Torchlighters Re-Entry Support is run by Community Spring Fellows who have been directly impacted by incarceration. This group seeks to create a community of peers that can help light the way home for one another. Torchlighters Re-Entry Support, along with its partners and allies, stands ready to bring those on the fringes into the center to heal our fractured communities.
Our work is centered around three main goals:
- We provide and promote robust support for returning citizens through peer support and online resources. We encourage formerly incarcerated people and their loved ones to engage with our Facebook group, call our warmline (352.559.4505), and check out our Re-Entry Resource Guide.
- We certify and promote local businesses and organizations that give people a fair chance and hire based on the qualifications of the applicants instead of their criminal record. If you are interested in becoming a certified fair chance employer, please complete this application.
- We also strive to change the narrative around the experience of re-entry from incarceration to the broader public through a communications and educational campaign (coming soon). We will collect and share compelling narratives of people who have been incarcerated in an effort to reduce stigma.
Torchlighters Re-Entry Support is a project of Community Spring. Community Spring is a grassroots organization that hires people experiencing poverty to organize and address an issue that they see as contributing to structural poverty in their community. Torchlighters Re-Entry Support was born out of the experiences of the 2020-2021 Community Spring Fellowship Class. This group of fellows have all been deeply impacted by incarceration and feel passionately that supporting returning citizens is key to breaking the cycle of poverty and building a more equitable Gainesville.
As a community of peers, we do not provide any direct services (such as legal advice or mental health counseling). We may, however, be able to direct you to those that can. Please contact us!