As part of an innovative New Jersey State Library initiative, the Trenton Free Public Library will host a kick-off event for its “Fresh Start” program on Thursday, February 20th, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in its Reading (120 Academy Street). This will be the launch of a special re-entry program for individuals returning home after completion of their prison terms.

Fresh Start @ Your Library is a statewide plan to that offers library services and resources, and referrals to other community resources, agencies and groups, for citizens returning to their local communities. They (and family members and friends) will hear an Introduction to the Fresh Start Program and learn about the Community Organizations that are partnering with the Library. Light refreshments will be served, and the event is open to the public and free.

Program participants and a councilor in discussion

Fresh Start is focused on reconnecting returning citizens with their communities at public libraries. Libraries have shown to successfully play an integral role in providing support and services to previously incarcerated individuals returning to their home communities. Returning citizens often have a difficult time transitioning back into society, primarily because of a lack of employment. New Jersey libraries are committed to help prepare individuals for successful reentry into the workforce.

The journey begins at the library, with a private session with a licensed social worker who will assist in developing a personalized plan. This plan will identify immediate needs and offer a personal strategy to help meet those needs. Participating libraries will serve as Reconnection Centers, in partnership with the New Jersey State Parole Board, and will provide the following services to returning citizens:

  • Private one-on-one sessions with a social worker
  • Referrals to employment opportunities
  • Job Readiness and Occupational Skills Training
  • GED Preparation
  • Community Resource Fairs
  • Job Fairs
Trenton Free Public Library, 120 Academy Street

Under the Program, local libraries also can provide information and resources to help with furthering education, acquiring stable housing, obtaining a driver’s license, and other life essentials. For more information, call the Trenton Free Public Library at (609) 392-7188.

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