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Summit of Hope helps more than 9,000 ex-offenders in Illinois to successfully reenter society and lower recidivism 

CHICAGO – Planning is now underway for a Summit of Hope event to be held November 16, 2012 at Malcolm X College, 1900 West Van Buren Street, Chicago, IL 60612 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.  The Summit of Hope is an invitation-only event for local state and federal parolees. The event is designed to bring the community together by gathering all available resources and putting them under one roof to provide a one-stop environment where parolees can obtain the necessary assistance and information to navigate past road blocks which can steer them away from successful reentry into their communities.

Since its first event in February 2010, the Summit of Hope has provided assistance to more than 9,000 ex-offenders to help them reintegrate safely into society.  Forty-three Summit of Hope expos have been held in different locations across Illinois.

“The goal of the Summit of Hope events is public safety through reduced recidivism,” said Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) Director S.A. Godinez.  “These events provide community services and support all in one convenient location to encourage and supply those reentering society with the tools needed to become law abiding, responsible members of society.”

The Summit of Hope concept involves communities throughout the state partnering with the IDOC and the Illinois Department of Public Health in collaboration with additional government, business entities, service providers, not-for-profits, faith-based organizations and volunteers to provide needed services, resources and knowledge to assist in the successful reentry of ex-offenders.  

“These events are an efficient way to meet the many needs of those who have just been released,” Godinez said.  “These are individuals who are putting their lives back together and are trying to locate the services they need to be a productive part of our communities.”

During the Summit of Hope events, parolee participants are assisted by an IDOC staff person or volunteer, who guides them through the maze of services and exhibits. Resources include social services, shelters, food, clothing, mental health, substance abuse, education, job training, free or low-cost medical, child care, college and adult education, assistance programs for utilities, transportation and more. Onsite services include the Secretary of State Mobile Unit to issue state identification cards, medical screenings, vaccinations, haircuts, mobile food pantries, and demonstrations by clothing professionals to dress for success.

“Each Summit of Hope is a uniform production by each community, created by the partnership of the community vendors and people who volunteer to make this a reality,” said IDOC District 5 Parole Supervisor Paul Carlson, who serves as a founder and organizer of the Summit of Hope. “Each area forms a committee that spearheads the event.  IDOC Parole ensures that all events are consistent throughout the state.”

Since its inception, Summit of Hope events have been held for the following communities:  Chicago, Mt. Vernon, Centralia, Harrisburg, Alton, Massac County, Alexander County, East St. Louis, Marion, Murphysboro, Carbondale, Bloomington, Champaign, Decatur, Springfield, Kankakee, Rockford, Rock Island, Peoria, Olney and Columbia.

“Our mission is to give hope to those who have lost hope,” Carlson said.  “Our goal is to help ex-offenders make a positive and successful adjustment back into society.  Throughout the course of the events, we continue to receive encouraging feedback by those in attendance.  The Summit of Hope has connected more than 9,000 ex-offenders with the services and assistance they need to be productive members of the community.”