A 501(c)3 nonprofit is working with judicial circuits in hopes of helping nonviolent offenders gain community service hours while improving the camp experience for special needs children.
Reachout America pools resources to assist in recreational activities for physically challenged children while helping nonviolent offenders in need of community service hours.
How? The offenders and the children don’t interact directly, but there’s a direct impact on all of the parties involved.
As an established national foundation headquartered in Georgia, Reachout America has helped children connect with unique and fun therapy camps across the country for decades – all of which are camps fully ready to provide community service hours to nonviolent offenders sent through the court system. Through Reachout America, individuals needing community service hours are able to choose a local therapy camp to support that would obtain funding from their hours completed; camps across America that have community service platforms in place range from horse riding camps that offer Hippotherapy to space camps for children who dream of flying to the moon. While many nonviolent offenders who have received probation hours from a Judge have elected to complete their service hours through Reachout America, the immediate availability of these therapy camps to provide community service hours far outweighs the number of individuals that are currently aware of the camps. Reachout America is working to expand that awareness.
The partnership between the organization and the judicial system allows more children to attend and participate in therapeutic camps while also easing the financial burden on camps that are suffering amid the pandemic.
Reachout America says there’s also a cost-savings for taxpayers since the offenders aren’t in jail. Daily costs for housing inmates can range from $25 per day to $100 per day, depending on the facility and the needs of the inmate. According to their research, keeping 10 offenders out of jail in a single community, if they qualify, can save over $400,000 over the term of their probated sentence. Reachout America’s plan of keeping nonviolent offenders outside of jail cells, the group says, eliminates the high cost of housing, feeding, and medically caring for the offenders on a daily basis. Plus, the offenders are more likely to keep gainful employment and it is possible that the community service efforts will help them ascend to higher paying positions over time.
The focus of Reachout America is twofold – to raise awareness of children with special needs and to provide those children with the opportunity to experience therapeutic camps. The benefits reaped by those involved with this Foundation are life-changing and far-reaching. For the children, their parents, the caregivers, and the volunteers alike, everyone who has ever been connected to one or more of the therapy camps feels forever profoundly changed and grateful. Whichever option, platform, or fundraising campaign the nonviolent offender chooses to orchestrate on behalf of a therapy camp (and to complete his/her community service hours), the individuals completing their community service hours through these camps have the benefit of knowing their efforts contribute to children with Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Autism, Congenital Heart Disease (or any one of other countless other ailments) being able to attend a therapy camp. Many testimonials from nonviolent offenders share how serving their community hours for the benefit of a therapy camp profoundly inspired them to reflect on their past choices, count their current blessings, and set goals to become the best versions of themselves while continuing to be of service to others.
“It’s hard to imagine that nonviolent offenders sitting in jail cells for months would have those same testimonials on the day they are released back into the community,” Reachout America said in a press release.