Winter Newsletter 2024

Page 1



Only the Beginning Nicholas, a Connections Work Pretrial client since May, has been driven to kickstart his career since he first came to our office. It may not have always been easy, but he continued to keep his eyes on the prize: employment. In June, just a month after receiving our services, Nicholas was hired at a local automotive retailer as a full-time shift manager. He worked hard, stayed the course, and after two months Nicholas was promoted to Assistant Manager! Because of this amazing job opportunity and the strides Nicholas took to change his life, he was able to buy a car! Nicholas’ future is looking bright and we wish him the best of luck in all his future endeavors!

Winter 2024

Success Comes to Those Who Wait La’Quan started with Connections Work as a client in our Work In Progress (WIP) program. Once the program was complete, he was eager to do more for himself. Soon after, La’Quan landed a spot in our R3 program and graduated with Cohort 30. La’Quan showed up every day, built connections, and invested himself in the cognitive behavioral curriculum. His hard work was evident to our staff and La’Quan received the Kip Frasso Cog All-Star Award at graduation which recognizes students that excel in the program. After the 8-week program, La’Quan’s life changed in the best way possible. He was hired for a full-time position as a smelter at a local manufacturer. A barrier that La’Quan faced during his time at Connections Work was maintaining stable housing. With the financial stability provided by his new job, he now has a place to call home. What does life look like for La’Quan today? He is recently married and plans on traveling. His next goal: get a passport!

He (La’Quan) was a pleasure to work with. I am so happy to see and hear about all the great things he has accomplished since graduating R3. Nicholas


Josie Basile, Young Adult Mentor, and previous R3 Case Manager



After graduating from the 8-week R3 program in May, Shawn was hired by one of Berks County’s leading second-chance employers. In his current position, he’s consistently using the skills he honed during his time at Connections Work.

MOD Pizza chose Connections Work to receive 100% of proceeds from their opening day’s net pizza sales at their new restaurant in Wyomissing. As the Grant Opening beneficiary, Connections Work received $2,859.85!

As if things couldn’t look more promising, Shawn finished probation and completed Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) and counseling. Through his commitment to graduate from R3, land a stable job, and utilize what he’s learned in our financial literacy courses, Shawn was able to buy a car!

Not only did they choose to support us through this generous donation, but they also hired 10 individuals from our Career Fair in October to work at their new location!

I came to Connections Work looking for a second chance, and Connections Work provided it!

We cannot express enough thanks and gratitude to our MOD Squad and our wonderful community for going out and buying pizza on opening day. The money raised will have a significant impact on our clients and their futures.

Shawn Shawn’s future goals? He hopes to save up enough money to purchase a house. Shawn looks forward to being 100% self-sufficient, as he was never able to do so before. With old doors closing and new doors opening, we know the possibilities are endless for Shawn!

CREATING MEANINGFUL TOOLS At Connections Work, we take the initiative to evaluate the way we work and seek ways to improve it. Our Employment Development Coordinator, Jacinda Maus, created a Virtual Job Board (VJB) for our clients and case managers. The VJB is designed to give clients easy access to research second-chance employers, apply online for jobs, and identify BARTA-accessible companies, and even determine the appropriate route number to take. To ensure that the VJB is being used effectively, our case managers were trained in how to use it so they can teach their clients. Connections Work clients can now access the VJB in our Computer-Based Learning Center.

The Virtual Job Board has helped both clients and case managers to work together to develop the next steps in the employment process. Jacinda Maus, Employment Development Coordinator

ANNUAL FRIENDS SOCIAL & REBRANDING EVENT Each November we hold our annual social where we take the time to celebrate our amazing volunteers, board members, and strongest supporters. This year, we had a surprise in store for our attendees. Those who attended our social got a first look at our new name and logo before we announced it to the public the following day. New society members were announced, and each received a special gift: a charcuterie board that was hand-crafted by our R3 participants. Thank you to everyone who came to our social/rebranding event and made it so special. It was a night to remember!

SANTA AND HIS ELVES MADE THEIR WAY INTO TOWN Through Connections Work’s Holiday Gift Project, we distributed gifts to 725 children with incarcerated, justiceinvolved, or at-risk parents. Thank you to the MANY elves who made this event a huge success. Because of your efforts, 471 households were impacted! One of our favorite things about the Holiday Gift Project is our Holiday Care and Share Party for children with incarcerated parents. The event was coordinated by Alice Moyer at West Lawn United Methodist Church. The families that attended the party decorated gingerbread houses, created festive crafts, enjoyed a DJ and homemade cookies, and got to meet with the famous Santa and Mrs. Claus! The remaining families were able to pick up their gifts at the drive-through event, which took place after the holiday party. Special thanks to Mark Goldstein, Founder and President of Blankets of Hope, and his team for providing warm blankets to all the families, and to Godiva for the donation of teddy bears! We could not make the holidays so much brighter for these children without all of the many individuals and organizations who purchased gifts. You are definitely on Santa’s GOOD list!

Upcoming Events Connections Work CAREER FAIR Connections in Action February 5, 2024

Looking for a new talent pool? Want to have a meaningful volunteer experience? Look no further than this second-chance Career Fair!

The Pardon Project of Berks County’s goal is to assist individuals with a criminal record who have served their sentence and are seeking a pardon for their convictions. The Pardon Project connects eligible applicants with trained Volunteer Pardon Coaches to assist them in completing the pardon application and aid them in their journey. To begin the pardon application process or to see if you are eligible, email

Join us as we recognize Connections Work individuals and organizations AWARDS BREAKFAST who have furthered the Inspiring Connections mission of Connections Work April 16, 2024 by improving the lives of incarcerated individuals, reentrants, and/or their families, as well as clients who, through their hard work and perseverance, have overcome many obstacles, succeeded in improving their lives, and are now making a positive difference in our community.

For more information about Connections Work, events, employment, or volunteer opportunities, email

Connections Work 19 N. 6th St. | 4th Floor Reading, PA 19601


To learn more about becoming a Volunteer Pardon Coach, email

Want to help us continue to impact lives? DONATE TODAY! Click on the QR code below, or visit our website:

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.