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Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014

Heroes of the Week: Genesis in Milwaukee Volunteers and Staff

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Founded in 2009 by Arn Quakkelaar, the nonprofit Genesis in Milwaukee Inc. (2454 W. Lisbon Ave.) is a reintegration program for those returning to Milwaukee from prison. The nonprofit focuses on housing, interview/résumé training, employment, educational tutoring and parenting and financial literacy mentoring.

“Not a lot of opportunities and services are available for the prison population,” says Kristina Betzold, executive administrator of Genesis in Milwaukee. “What we want to do is address and meet the needs of this population.”

Betzold says it costs more than $35,000 a year to incarcerate someone and 60% of those previously incarcerated return to prison within three years of their release.

“We are trying to break the cycle. Our program has an impact on how our tax money is spent. The amount the public gets back by putting money into re-entry programs is huge,” says Betzold.

Genesis in Milwaukee offers its programs in the House of Correction and is working with about 500 individuals. It also sends letters and gives presentations to inmates at institutions statewide. Over the past two years, more than 175 mentors have been trained and 50 volunteers are actively engaging as mentors at this time.

“We have a great staff and great volunteers. Everyone works well together and works very hard on a daily basis. They are all very caring for the people we work with,” Betzold says.

Genesis in Milwaukee is always seeking volunteer mentors that have any skills to offer. Donations of men’s and women’s dress and professional clothing are also much appreciated. For more information, visit genesisinmke.org or call 414-344-9880.