With approximately 700,000 ex-offenders transitioning into communities across the U.S. each year and a lack of resources available in lower Hudson Valley communities for individuals reentering their community after a period of incarceration, there is a need for M.A.D.E. Transitional Services. Founded by Toney Earl, Jr., M.A.D.E., an acronym for making a Difference Everyday, seeks to reduce the recidivism trap by providing the proper tools for ex-offenders—and by extension their families and surrounding lower Hudson Valley communities to thrive.
Toney is involved in activities to change policies seeking to remove the barriers and biases that prohibit ex-offenders from fully reintegrating into society in productive ways. One such group is the Rockland Coalition to End the New Jim Crow with its “Ban the Box” initiative to remove the felony conviction check box from employment applications.
“This organization seeks to increase public safety and reduce recidivism by generating opportunities for individuals to transform their own lives by encouraging behavioral changes that promote personal responsibility, healthy relationships, and positive contributions to society,” says Toney.
Since M.A.D.E.’s inception, Toney has been planning and collaborating with social services agencies such as Today’s Workplace, law enforcement, and other sister organizations to figure out the gaps in services and where other agencies lack the understanding of ex-offenders’ plight when returning to the community along with examining the inefficiencies in the funding allocation for this population. What’s unique about this organization is that M.A.D.E. presents innovative concepts. For ex-offenders with the aptitude, M.A.D.E. connects them with resources to establish self-employment when full-time employment opportunities are not available. This approach has proven to not only provide ex-offenders with greater skill offerings, but has also shown an increase ex-offenders’ self-esteem, thereby increasing their confidence throughout their job search and also in other inter-personal relationships and other areas of their lives.
Toney Earl recently presented this concept at a panel discussion at the CEJJES Institute in Pomona, New York, a cultural and educational foundation dedicated to improving the social conditions for disenfranchised people, particularly children of color. In addition, Toney is in talks with Daniel Berger, the Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) Lower Hudson Valley chapter to potentially assist in the duplication of this campaign in Westchester.
At present, M.A.D.E.’s Fletcher-Boykins Residencies housing project is in the development stage. M.A.D.E. Transitional Services is in the process of securing its first transitional house, which will provide 10-14 beds for returning ex-offenders. M.A.D.E. has developed a niche amongst other reentry and affordable housing organizations by solely focusing on the wide disparity of affordable housing available for the ex-offender population.
“The housing project is not about simply providing “a roof over heads” but will also focus on strengthening personal accountability amongst its residents. Mandatory criterion for housing eligibility is full participation in M.A.D.E.’s Project Change program,” said Toney.
Toney recently had his first highly successful fundraiser for M.A.D.E. It was attended by a “Who’s- Who” list of Hudson Valley notables. Keynote speaker for the evening was Real Estate Mogul, Mr. Jay Morrison. Morrison shared his life story as an ex-offender who now mentors at-risk youth and ex-offenders. If you want to know more information about M.A.D.E transitional services you can visit their website at www.made-transitions.org and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/madetransitions