Life Outside is a recently launched nonprofit that was started by two friends to help people coming out of prison return to the South Bend community safely and successfully. Jeff has a justice-involved son, and Justin teaches college at the prison in Westville, and both saw the opportunity to do more in our community for fellow humans on the margins. Life Outside has one goal: to help people live life outside of prison walls, to stay there and to stay alive. In the era of mass incarceration, more people than ever are leaving prison, and they face immense obstacles the minute they pass through the prison gate. Where will I sleep tonight? Will my family accept me back? Who will hire me? How do I recover physically and mentally from years behind bars? Life Outside is the only organization in our area that provides comprehensive support specifically to all formerly incarcerated people in our community. We presented for the Awesome Foundation last year, but a lot of great things have happened since then. Since our official launch at “Locked in Solidarity” in February, we are now set to open our new office space downtown in the Monroe Circle Community Center campus this summer, in the heart of the community we serve. We have helped clients navigate the legal system, resolve landlord-tenant disputes, find stable housing for addiction treatment, and prepare for new jobs. We are growing every day, with 2 new positions on the leadership team and 9 new interns from Notre Dame this year so far. As we continue to become established in the community, we will amplify the voices of returning citizens and give the people we help the chance to tell their stories of hope and redemption. Life Outside is committed to changing lives, and each individual life we impact will touch others in the South Bend area. Since we presented last, several formerly incarcerated people we know have been rearrested or have overdosed and died. We know we can’t save everyone, but we have to start trying.
Funded by South Bend, IN (May 2022)