Living Columns & Blogs

CentrePeace offers rehabilitation opportunities for inmates

CentrePeace is on a mission — to define and promote restorative justice and change lives in Centre County and beyond. Through programs that instill hope, deliver life skills and vocational training and provide resources to incarcerated members of our communities, we work to help people make better choices, learn from their mistakes, locate the assistance they need and become productive citizens again … or possibly for the first time ever. So how do we make this all happen?

CentrePeace operates a second-hand store at 3047 Benner Pike in Bellefonte to fund virtually every program that we offer and are deeply grateful for donations of both used goods and dollars in order to continue making a difference in the lives of those who are in desperate need of change. To put all of this into perspective, for every person that we can help keep from reoffending and returning to the Centre County Correctional Facility, we save the taxpayers of Centre County nearly $25,000 annually. That translates into hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings each year at no cost to the taxpayers of Centre County.

At our facility on the Benner Pike, we operate Project Restore, which employs work-release eligible inmates from the Centre County Correctional Facility. During their days here, trainees learn valuable skills that can significantly improve their likelihood of success upon release. Trainees learn to work eight-hour days, handle property with care and treat co-workers, staff, customers and themselves with respect. They learn skills such as furniture and electronics repair, wood refinishing and reupholstery. Experiencing success here builds confidence and the courage to imagine a better future.

Pride in a job well done is earned, and it is not just for men anymore. For the past two years, CentrePeace has been welcoming female offenders, too. They are growing in confidence and capabilities while working in our store and furniture repair shop. One of our female trainees recently enthusiastically stated that, “CentrePeace changed my life. Being given the opportunity to work while serving my sentence allowed me to ‘test’ the person I was working to become. I was surrounded by kind, caring people who were motivated to teach me skills and help me develop a work ethic that I can take pride in today.”

CentrePeace is a valuable asset to the Centre Region outside of the criminal justice system, as well. We are proud to partner with local social service agencies such as Catholic Charities, The St. Vincent DePaul Society and the Centre County Women’s Resource Center as we help those most in need get back on their feet and start over. Anything from furniture to linens, appliances to kitchenware, we work closely with these agencies, and others, to provide their clients with items that most of us take for granted.

So, when you support CentrePeace, either by donating gently used items, shopping here, volunteering with us or by providing direct financial support, rest assured that you are supporting so much more than just a second-hand store. You are making an investment in our communities. You are creating opportunities, providing second chances, building confidence and restoring lives.

MaryAnn Stringer works at CentrePeace.