Born and raised in Massachusetts, Hank spent more than ten years in a wide range of environmental law enforcement, supervisory natural resource protection, emergency hazardous waste contingency response and white-collar crime investigation with the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service and the United States Secret Service.

Hank received his:

  • Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a concentration in Natural Resources Law Enforcement
  • a Masters in Criminal Justice Administration from Boston University
  • a Master of Arts in Holistic Counseling and a Master of Arts in Holistic Leadership from Salve Regina University
  • two certificates of advanced graduate study in Holistic Counseling and Holistic Leadership
  • two certificates of advanced graduate study in Counseling
  • a Doctorate in Educational Administration & Leadership from Seton Hall University

He is a graduate of

  • the Assisi Institute’s Two-Year Archetypal Pattern Analyst Program
  • and Air University, Air Command and Staff College

In addition, Dr. Brightman is

  • certified clinical hypnotherapist
  • certified clinical trauma professional
  • and certified personal trainer through the Aerobics & Fitness Association of America

Hank is currently a full professor and Acting Director of the Civilian-Military Humanitarian Response Program within the College of Maritime Operational at the United States Naval War College. He also serves as the distinguished EMC Informationist Chair (an eight-year, endowed appointment). From 2008-2016, he served as an Associate Professor, Professor, and Director of Applied Research & Analysis in the War Gaming Department of this institution.

From 2000-2008, he served as a tenured Associate Professor and Chair of the Criminal Justice Department at Saint Peter’s University, and also serves as an adjunct faculty member at Salve Regina University, Saint Peter’s University, and Utica College, where he teaches a wide range of undergraduate and graduate-level courses in Criminology and research methods.

In his Navy Reserve career, Commander (CDR) Heath “Hank” Brightman serves as Commanding Officer of Navy Reserve, Cryptologic Warfare Group in Massachusetts. A fully qualified Navy Reserve Cryptologic Warfare Officer, CDR Brightman’s most recent active duty mobilization was from March 2018 through February 2019, assigned to the Office of Military Commissions, Military Commissions Defense Organization (Washington DC/Guantanamo Bay, Cuba). In this capacity, he served as the Senior Intelligence Investigator on a 9/11 high-value detainee case team.

For the past seven years, Dr. Brightman has maintained a part-time, private trauma and wellness practice in Newport, Rhode Island, focused on applying a variety of holistic techniques to support client recovery. His primary approach combines Jungian, Gestalt, narrative, and expressive therapies with clinical hypnotherapy, physical fitness, and nutrition.

Sheriff Kurt A. Hoffman is the 11th Sheriff of Sarasota County and began this new leg of his long service to our community earlier this year.

Sheriff Hoffman began his law enforcement career as a deputy with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office in 1989. He served the Sarasota, Manatee, and DeSoto communities for more than three decades as both a prosecutor and as the general counsel for the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office since 2005. During his tenure, he was promoted to Captain, Major, and Colonel prior to winning the 2020 election to become our new Sheriff.

Sheriff Hoffman has a rich family history of service in both local and state law enforcement as well as the US Military. He has a passion for the veteran community, his family, and his hometown. He and his wife Teri reside in Venice.

Project 180 residents had the opportunity to sit down for a virtual meeting with three attorneys who were eager to answer their questions and offer support for what is oftentimes a stressful and confusing task: filing taxes.

Gulfcoast Legal Services, a non-profit organization that provides high quality legal services at no cost to the client, gave a detailed presentation Monday evening about how to properly file annual taxes and answered questions during a group discussion with Project 180 residents.

“I think perhaps the most important thing that happened [tonight] is that these guys now have a personal relationship with 3 tax lawyers,” said Wendy Cox, tax attorney for Gulf Coast Legal Services who led the workshop.

The workshop addressed vital information and explained how to properly fill out a W-4, how to receive a stimulus check, where to file taxes at no charge and so much more.

“I think the key will be if they contact us for 1:1 advice.  That’s where we can really help people,” Wendy added.

Gulf Coast Legal Services kicked-off Project 180’s first Resident Workshop that was designed to bring industry experts and professionals once-a-month to help educate Project 180 residents on a broad spectrum of topics.

If you or your organization would like to provide a workshop for Project 180 residents, please email

“We can’t thank Wendy and her team at Gulfcoast Legal Services enough for sharing their time and knowledge with our residents,” said Barbara Richards, Project 180 Founder and CEO. “Our residents had several questions about their taxes and they were relieved to have answers from trusted professionals who want to see them succeed.”


Project 180 is excited to announce the opening of Keifer’s House in Sarasota County

Sarasota, FL, September 10, 2020: Project 180, a Sarasota-based nonprofit, has opened its second Residential Program home to provide comprehensive services for formerly incarcerated men in active recovery.

The opening of Keifer’s House underscores Project 180’s holistic reentry model for reintegrating formerly incarcerated citizens into community life. Emphasizing a ‘recovery first’ foundation to rebuild lives shattered by drug and alcohol addiction, Project 180 provides safe and stable housing for up to two years and a structured, hands-on recovery program tailored to meet the unique needs of each resident.

Keifer’s House is a newly renovated, fully furnished, three-bedroom and two-bath home nestled in a friendly neighborhood that comfortably accommodates up to six residents. A local donor furnished the entire home to support residents in turning their lives around.

Thanks to a generous donation provided by The Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation in 2018, Project 180 purchased its first home, Nik’s House, and laid the foundation for the opening of a second property just two years later. The 2020 Giving Challenge presented by The Community Foundation of Sarasota County and strengthened by The Patterson Foundation, provided the remaining seed money to rent Keifer’s House.

As Project 180 continues to stand on the front lines of the recidivism crisis, expand its community impact, and provide lifesaving programs and services, Barbara Richards, Project 180 President/CEO and Founder, welcomes a new Development Coordinator to the team, Sandra Baxter. Baxter, who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from University of South Florida, will assist in providing meaningful experiences for donors, volunteers and supporters who save and transform lives every day through their generosity.

Baxter brings a “unique background in business development, communications, and sales to this newly created role. We’re thrilled that she’s joined the Project 180 family,” Richards said.

For more information on Project 180, visit and find Project 180 on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

About Project 180: Project 180 seeks to reduce recidivism by providing workforce education and financial literacy classes for inmates, an annual reentry lecture series for the general public, information and referrals for formerly incarcerated individuals seeking housing, programs, and employment, and a comprehensive, whole-life Residential Program for men in recovery. Project 180 seeks to build community, not prisons.


Joshua Linden, Project 180 Residential Program graduate.

Project 180’s Residential Program was created to provide a safe, stable environment in which formerly incarcerated men in active recovery might rebuild their lives – and that’s precisely what its most recent graduate, Joshua Linden, has accomplished. Joshua now embarks on a new and exciting chapter in his life after successfully completing the program.

On January 4, 2020, Joshua began his journey at Project 180 and moved into Nik’s House, one of Project 180’s Residential Program homes. Just one week out of Sarasota County Jail, Joshua had no job, no money, no cell phone, and was estranged from his family due to his behavior during his years of drug and alcohol addiction.

After hitting rock bottom, Joshua knew it was time to change and find a support system that would allow him to focus on recovery as the foundation for all other aspects of his life.

“I know for a fact in my heart of hearts that if I didn’t move into that house I would have relapsed by now. I’d be dead or in jail,” Joshua said as he reflected on what his life might look like today if Project 180 didn’t exist.

Upon entering Project 180’s Residential Program, Joshua was provided with not just a house where he could recover and rebuild, but a supportive and kind home – something he had not experienced in a very long time.

When asked what the most important part of the Residential Program was for him, Joshua said it was “knowing that people have your back, knowing that you have a legitimate second chance at life, and having a feeling of security and a safe home. I have not had that in a very long time so that was super important.”

Project 180’s Residential Program focuses on providing comprehensive services to formerly incarcerated men who are sincere about turning their lives around and are willing to put in the work. The program includes stable housing, nutritious food, assistance with obtaining a cell phone, clothing, transportation, and necessities that many of us take for granted every day.

“To be able to get a phone was huge,” Josh explained. “How are you going to get a phone without a job? How are you going to get a job without a phone? It was a catch-22. [Project 180’s help in getting a cell phone] was extremely helpful. Just being in that environment in the house where my basic needs were met allowed me to focus on my recovery instead of worrying about little things here and there.”

Project 180 gave Joshua the opportunity to rebuild his life one step at a time. Now, only seven months later, Joshua has a stable job, has regained his right to drive, owns a car, and has moved into a one-bedroom house.

“There’s no way to put it into words. This is the first time in my adult life that I have moved into a place on my own,” Joshua said.

As Joshua enjoys a life he once “could have never imagined,” he looks forward to staying clean and sober, reconnecting with family, working hard every day, and focusing on his art and music in his spare time.

“Turning lives around isn’t just about putting a roof over someone’s head and a Band-Aid on the problem,” said Barbara Richards, President/CEO and Founder of Project 180. “We have to dig deep:  understand where these men are coming from, what their specific needs are, and how we can help them build a new life of purpose and meaning that will ultimately make our community a much safer place to live.”

As Joshua begins this exciting new chapter in his life, Project 180 celebrates his success alongside the community that makes life transformations like this happen.

“Donors, community members, and volunteers are the ones who make it possible for deserving men like Joshua to have a second chance at life,” Richards said. “The greatest reward for us all will be to watch Joshua soar and build a life of happiness for himself and those around him.”


As with other events nationwide, the second and third luncheons in Project 180’s annual lecture series were postponed due to the pandemic. With high hopes and great optimism, we originally intended to pick up again this Friday, June 12. Clearly, that goal was too enthusiastic.
We began celebrating Second Chance employers on March 6th with The Honorable Kimberly C. Bonner and keynote speaker Felix Massey. We look forward to continuing the series on the dates listed below.

The Honorable Kimberly C. Bonner (left) Chief Judge, 12th Judicial Circuit Speaker.  Roxie Jerde President/CEO, Community Foundation of Sarasota County Breaker of Chains Sponsor. Sherry Koski, The Koski Family Foundation, Breaker of Chains Sponsor.



Joe Malave Project 180 Board of Directors (left) Raymond James Breaker of Chains Sponsor.   Felix Massey Keynote Speaker, March 6, 2020 Society for Human Resource Management.

Remaining lectures for “Celebrating Second Chance Employers”

Please join us on
October 9  for a panel discussion with Second Chance employers and employees
November 13  to hear Dave Dahl, keynote speaker. Founder and former owner of Dave’s Killer Bread
All other information for the series remains the same:
Location: Michael’s on East, 1212 East Ave., Sarasota
Time: Doors open at 11:00 for registration and networking; luncheon begins promptly at 11:30 am and ends at 1:00 pm
Tickets: Tickets are $35 each and include lunch. Secure tickets  here
Already purchased tickets for the April 3 luncheon?  They’ll be honored at the October 9 panel discussion*
Tickets already purchased for May 8  will be honored at the November 13 lecture*
*If you need to make other arrangements concerning your tickets e.g., you bought tickets for April 3 and can’t make October 9, please let us know by contacting us at
A Message from the CEO
Project 180’s Strong Voices lecture series educates our community about issues associated with prisoner reentry.
Unsuccessful reentry is closely associated with social ills that affect us all. When unable to find housing or employment, a reentering citizen is likely to slide into homelessness and residential instability, poverty, and unemployment, contribute to public health concerns, and engage in criminal activity.
Successful reentry results in an individual who pays taxes and abides by the law, supports himself or herself and a family. Successful reentry takes all of us and those at the center of success are the landlords who house and the employers who employ returning citizens.
During this lecture season, we express our great appreciation to local employers who understand that everyone needs a second chance at a better life. We hope you’ll join us in celebrating their dedication to keeping our streets safer and their compassion in helping motivated citizens turn their lives around.
Wishing you well,
Barbara Richards
Project 180
Fine-Tuning During the Pandemic, Adjustments to Programs & Activities

Residential Services Continue

Despite the challenges we’re all facing, the Residential Program continues to provide comprehensive services and stability in the lives of the men at Nik’s House. The residents are all doing well and no one has displayed symptoms of the virus.

As always, residents receive strong recovery support; safe, stable housing; nutritious food (now delivered by Instacart); clothing, work clothing, and tools; and all the support we can give to keep them safe and healthy.

Fifty percent of our men are currently unemployed; however, no resident has been discharged due to an inability to pay his program fee and no eligible applicant is turned away due to lack of funds.

We remain in contact with former residents to support their continued success.

Strong Voices Luncheons Postponed

We have postponed the final two luncheon lectures in our Strong Voices series until October and November. Strong Voices educates our community and generates much of Project 180’s annual income. Like many nonprofits, we rely on these events to help formerly incarcerated citizens transform their lives – work that is more important now than ever.

Fortunately, the Giving Challenge, a community fundraiser in which we’ve participated since its inception, will be held April 28-29 from noon to noon. This is one of the greatest sources of our operating funds.

We understand that COVID-19 is impacting everyone and hope you will consider directing your donation to Project 180 during the Giving Challenge when donations of $25 to $100 will be matched by The Patterson Foundation.

Your support will continue to provide food, shelter and other vital services for formerly incarcerated men and women.

We also encourage you to consider a contribution to our partner, Sarasota Chorus of the Keys, a men’s chorus that keeps alive the uniquely American art of the Barbershop Quartet.

Sarasota Chorus of the Keys is creating a special singing telegram to thank you for donating to Project 180 during the Giving Challenge!

Prison and Jail Programs on Hold

CEO Workforce Education and Financial Literacy classes in jails and prisons have been postponed until further notice by the administration of each facility.

Staff Remains Working

Our staff is working from home. Almost half our annual payroll is donated by an Angel Donor a year in advance. Her February, 2020 contribution will help support staff into 2021.

Emily (aka Em), Office Administrator, provides support for reentering citizens throughout the state of Florida through our Information & Referral Service (I & R). Reentering citizens in need of housing, programs, and employment contact us on a daily basis and speak to Emily. Her compassionate assistance not only provides important survival information but also the vital elements of hope and a light at the end of the tunnel.

In 2019, we served 589 individuals through this program with over 1,200 since its inception. With more and more calls for inmates to be released early during the coronavirus pandemic, I & R is an increasingly valuable service to the community.

Mike, Residential Program Manager, remains closely in touch with residents and former residents who are in need of his guidance during these challenging times. In-person AA and NA meetings are no longer available which have made Mike’s guidance, wisdom and insight absolutely essential during the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2019, Project 180’s Residential Program provided 1,861 nights of shelter and food for 5,577 meals.

Barbara continues her work as always.

Photos from the March 6th Luncheon

Board Vice Chair Tom Melville with Kathy Shaffer and Stephanie Deiter


Board Member Pamela Gore Meade with the Reverend Wes Bixby
Board Member Paula Fishman with Jeff Sindelar, Innovator Sponsors and Felix Massey
Board Member Joe Malave with Felix Massey
Incoming Board Member AJ Donatelli with Norman Wirtz, Barbara Richards, and Kent Simons
President/CEO Barbara Richards with Keynote Speaker Felix Massey, SHRM
Roxie Jerde, CEO, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Breaker of Chains Sponsor and Wendy Cox, Project 180 Founder’s Circle Member and Game Changer Sponsor
Tom and Sherry Koski, Breaker of Chains Sponsors with David Green
Jeffrey Weinberger, Imagine Foundation, Innovator Sponsor with Residential Program House Leader, Josh Linden Residential Program graduate, Michael Marsella and Kayla Nelson
The Honorable Kimberly C. Bonner, Roxie Jerde, and Sherry Koski
Singride Frame and Ben Vanderneck, CareerSource Suncoast, Futurist Sponsor
Cooper and Rachel Levy-Baker
Barbara Richards with Nick Sato, Amanda Astor, and Craig Schaeffer, State Attorney’s Office
Joanne Weulfing and Nina Linski
Megan Howell
Staff Member, Emily Rickerson, with Felix Massey and resident, Kevin Davis
Carolyn Simpson, Anastasia Girard, and Barbara Keane
Gary Webb and Norman Wirtz
Barbara Richards with Jeff King and Stephanie DiTrioia, Department of Corrections Probation
Barbara with Ruslan Romanenko

With Warmest Thanks to Our Generous 2020 Strong Voices Lecture Series Sponsors

Project 180’s wise fiscal management over the years has given it a level of stability that allows it to continue delivering services for the foreseeable future. Just like you, we are deeply committed to the men and women we serve and plan to deliver services throughout and after these unprecedented times.
In doing so, our actions now and always emanate from our Mission, Vision, and Core Values.
  • Be models of compassion, accountability, and integrity
  • Limit spending; when spending is necessary, spend wisely
  • Be transparent and communicate
  • Responsibly adjust how we serve incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men and women, our partners, and our community
  • Use this time wisely to strengthen infrastructure, plan, and innovate

Thank you for your belief in and commitment to the men and women we serve during these unusual times. We are being as strategic as possible to ensure that the organization can meet its Mission and Vision and continue to serve.

We will keep you posted on the well-being of our residents, our work, and upcoming events.

In the meantime, staying fluid and balanced is the name of the game and engaging in a few antics now and then helps keep everyone’s spirits up.
Here are a few ‘shares’ that have been going around Nik’s House lately. You’ll notice that one of our residents features prominently in more than one…. Enjoy!
Wishing you well!
Barbara Richards
Project 180


The successes and forward momentum of 2019, our most effective year so far, couldn’t have happened without you. Your gifts of financial assistance, introductions to new donors and friends, and contributions of your time make Project 180 the valued and successful program it is today.

Nationally, more citizens are recognizing that it’s not only socially responsible to ease the transition from jail and prison to life on the outside, it’s also financially prudent. The link between incarceration and the costly social ills of poverty, homelessness, and unemployment has been firmly established. When we help formerly incarcerated citizens, we reduce financial burdens on our communities, helping them to become stronger and more economically vibrant.
Read on  to find out how you make positive changes in people’s lives every day by partnering in Project 180’s five initiatives and how you can double your impact through a matching grant.


Residential Program
Nik’s House: comprehensive assistance, whole-life impact
Your greatest impact occurs at Nik’s House, Project 180’s Residential Program, where we reduce the small stressors of transitioning back into the community so residents can focus on recovery from addictive disease, maintaining full-time employment, restoring relationships with loved ones, financial stabilization, and learning to live as a mainstream citizen.
We’re halfway there! We’ve raised over 50% of the funds needed to receive a $20,000 match from the Imagine Foundation and Olivia Weinberger. You can help open a second Residential Program home and double your impact by designating your gift for the Gloria Schwartz Matching Fund.
Dinners with mainstream citizens and local leaders, opening bank accounts, saving for an emergency fund, restoring one’s right to drive, and stabilizing one’s life. These are all part of the Residential Program’s design as it  provides a safe place to make and learn from mistakes without resorting to drug use or other harmful behavior. To date, 20 me,n and indirectly their families, have benefited from the program.
Thanks to a grant from The Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, Project 180 purchased our Residential Program home in May, 2019 which provides us the stability to continue services for years to come. Visit the Barancik Foundation to learn about their great work.
A grant from the Candlish-Cresswell Fund provides the means for Project 180 to partner with three women’s programs–Purpose House, Courage to Change, and Bridge to Life–to help their residents restore their right to drive.

Strong Voices Lecture Series
2020: “Celebrating Second Chance Employers”
Project 180’s annual lecture series continues in 2020 in Bradenton and Sarasota as we explore the benefits, challenges and incentives of hiring formerly incarcerated citizens
A pre-series panel discussion with Second Chance Employers will be held on February 7th at Pier 22 in Bradenton. Tickets for this event, which must be purchased separately from the Sarasota series, are $35 and include lunch. Secure your tickets here.
The Sarasota series begins March 6.  New this year is networking at 11:00 with the luncheon beginning at 11:30. Kicking off the series,  Felix Massey of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), Alexandria, VA will discuss barriers to employment including employment prohibitions, the effects of the current labor market on Second Chance employment, best practices among Second Chance employers, incentives to hire, and more.
On April 3, Judge Charles Williams will moderate a panel discussion by Second Chance employers and employees. Panelists Adam Sulimirski from Cruise Car International, Chris Harris from All Glass & Windows, and Steve Lagasse of Lagasse Pools & Service  will share  anecdotes illustrating the benefits and challenges of hiring formerly incarcerated citizens.
On May 8, we look forward to keynote speaker  Dave Dahl, co-founder, former owner, and namesake of Dave’s Killer Bread. A formerly incarcerated citizen, Dave is an iconic figure in the reentry world, having become a Second Chance employer and avid advocate for hiring justice-involved citizens.
Secure your tickets now for one lecture or the series by clicking here. Please note that the Sarasota series tickets do not include admission to the Bradenton luncheon lecture on February 7th. Tickets for that event may be purchased separately at the same link.


CEO Program and Financial Literacy Course
The CEO Program 
The CEO Workforce Education Program was our very first program. It’s a two-hour class filled with helpful hints and insider tips on finding and keeping work in felon-friendly industries.
CEO Program at the County Jail
Delivered by local CEOs, it’s a win-win-win. Inmates receive invaluable advice on procuring employment; CEOs share their expertise with citizens who need it the most while learning about inmates’ lives; and b usinesses that desperately need workers benefit from hiring people who are prepared to work hard and show their worth. Since its inception, this program has educated over 1100 inmates and dozens of CEOs.
Click here for more information on this practical, well-received program. Want to become one of our CEOs? Contact Barbara at


Financial Literacy Course 
Once you’re making money, you need to know how to manage it. Project 180’s eight-hour Financial Literacy Course is taught by bank managers, wealth advisers, and other finance industry professionals and covers credit, borrowing, managing debt, building a financial future, budgeting, and more.
Financial Literacy Course at the Bradenton Bridge women’s prison
The course, which began at Hardee State Prison in 2014, has provided financial education for over 1,000 inmates and has impassioned numerous instructors as they help inmates prepare for reentry.
If you’re a finance industry professional (working or retired) and would like to teach with us in Tampa, Sarasota, Bradenton, or Bowling Green, please contact Emily at You can learn more about the program here.


Information & Referrals (I & R)
I & R by County
Programs, housing, and employment are at the top of every reentering citizen’s “Most-Needed” list. Several years ago w e enlisted a number of volunteers who painstakingly researched each Florida county and compiled lists of the resources they found.
Office Administrator, Emily Rickerson, sending out I & R letters
Project 180 distributes these lists freely and receives back letters like this one:
“Words can’t explain how grateful I am for your help in finding transitional housing and other programs that will help me transition back into society a lot better. 
“Your time and patience is greatly appreciated amongst me and fellow inmates here with me as well. Without you it’s very difficult to get the information we need that can help us with our transition back out there in society. A lot of us have lost family members during our long prison sentence who were our main support system who we no longer have that could help us adjust to life once we are released so Project 180 is a true blessing to us. May God’s grace be with you all at Project 180.”
If you’d like to volunteer to update and distribute our resource lists, we could use your help! Please contact Barbara or Emily at 941-677-2281.


With warmest thanks to our generous 2020 Strong Voices Lecture Series Sponsors
The Palm Avenue Wealth Advisory Group 
with Raymond James
Robert C. and Pamela Gore Meade and Family
Tim and Myrna Murphy
Paula Fishman and Jeff Sindelar
Thank you! We’re so grateful for your support!
Want to become a sponsor? Contact Barbara at 850-445-5682 or at

We wish you a Happy New Year and send you a thousand thanks for your vision and support. Thank you for being our partners in this important work that saves lives, heals wounds, and reunites families.

With warmest good wishes,
Barbara Richards
Project 180

Back to School


Jon Thaxton, Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice and The Honorable Andy Owens with Ruslan at Strong Voices in April

Stability makes a profound difference in anyone’s ability to move forward yet it’s especially important for formerly incarcerated citizens as they attempt to put their lives back together after release.

Ruslan, who has gained stability as a Project 180 resident, is on his way to realizing his long-term dream of opening a videography business. A couple of months ago, he started school at Suncoast Technical College where he’s already produced a short video as part of his homework.
Ruslan is gifted in languages, mathematics, and music, is kind-hearted, soft-spoken, and working hard on his recovery. He expects to graduate in March or April, 2020.
When asked what he’d like readers to know about him, he replied, “Thanks to  Karina Clarke at Drug Court and Project 180, I’ve discovered there’s a different way to live after having chased an illusion [drugs] for so many years. Having people there who will support me and being part of Narcotics Anonymous have drastically changed my life. Now I have goals. I’m a full-time student, am working, just got a vehicle, and will soon be driving. I had to change everything about myself. And it’s working.”
Ruslan is also the recipient of a local dentist’s generosity. Thanks to volunteer Olivia Weinberger and her dentist (who wishes to remain anonymous), Ruslan is receiving full dental care including 17 extractions, two bridges, and dentures.
You’re doing a great job, Ruslan! We love having you in the program!

Read more

As usual, there’s a lot going on at Project 180! Residents are doing well, we’re partnering on an exciting new initiative, and preparing for Strong Voices, Dining With Friends, and the Giving Challenge which will be held again next April.

Read on to find out who’s doing what, when things are happening, and how you can stay involved.

Back to School!

Michael joined Nik’s House just before Christmas, 2018 and has been steadily putting his life back together. Homeless for four years prior to being accepted into Project 180’s Residential Program, he’s grateful every day for a new beginning.

Each resident is provided the means to ascertain his personal leadership style through the Gallup Strengths-Based Leadership 2.0 survey and Michael took the assessment. He’s an Achiever whose world view is, “No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement…you will feel dissatisfied.” The assessment fits; Michael’s accomplished a lot since coming into the program.

Upon entering Nik’s House, Michael set goals for himself. Get a job. Restore his driver’s license. Buy a car. Go back to school. He got a job within his first few weeks at Nik’s and has worked as a line cook and roofer on his way to accomplishing his other goals.

Transportation is one of the biggest roadblocks for recently released citizens. With help from Project 180’s Fee & Fine Assistance Program,** Michael regained his license to drive in July. He purchased a car with his savings, applied for Financial Aid, and received a grant to go back to school at Suncoast Technical College where he’s studying to become an electrician.

Michael still has months to go before he’s a full-fledged electrician but is working hard to achieve his dream. What’s more, he’s inspiring others in the program to think about obtaining a career rather than just working a job. We’re proud of you, Michael!

**In Project 180’s Fee & Fine Assistance Program, Project 180 matches a resident’s payments up to $1,000 to clear fees and fines that prevent him from restoring his right to drive.

“Book ‘Em”
Judy Gee

Last year, Project 180 introduced Literacy Council of Sarasota volunteer Judy Gee to DeSoto CI State Prison in Arcadia. Almost 40% of state prisoners have a literacy level of fifth grade or lower and Judy wanted to help turn that figure around. She formed Individual Literacy Training which uses a practical approach to raising the literacy levels of extremely low-literate individuals.

While delivering her program at DeSoto, she decided to launch an initiative to buy a book for every inmate who wanted one because, “everyone should have his or her very own, brand new book.” She worked diligently with three inmates–Mr. Solomon, Mr. Tennity, and Mr. White–who took the project and ran with it. In a stroke of brilliance, one of the men named the book distribution project “Book ‘Em.”

Judy found funding, enlisted Project 180 as a fiscal agent, haggled prices with booksellers and, with her three compatriots, comprised a list of 68 books from which each inmate could select his own book. Mr. Solomon, Mr. Tennity, and Mr. White posted flyers and sign-up sheets in the dorms with descriptions of each book. Poignantly, the flyer and sign-up sheet included the following statement and poem:

“If you did not grow up in a world where reading was encouraged, now’s your chance to start catching up! If you need help reading the book you choose, let us know. We can help.”

I opened a book and in I strode.
Now nobody can find me.
I’ve left my chair, my house, my road,
My town and my world behind me.
I’m wearing the cloak, I’ve slipped on the ring,
I’ve swallowed the magic potion.
I’ve fought with a dragon, dined with a king
And dived in a bottomless ocean.
I opened a book and made some friends.
I shared their tears and laughter
And followed their road with its bumps and bends
To the happily ever after.
I finished my book and out I came.
The cloak can no longer hide me.
My chair and my house are just the same,
But I have a book inside me.
–Julia Donaldson

Project 180 is proud to be associated with this wonderful initiative. Abiding thanks to Judy, Messrs. Tennity, Solomon and White, and DeSoto Annex Assistant Warden of Programs Lori Norwood.

Community Foundation of Sarasota County

Community Foundation of Sarasota County (CFSC) is not only gearing up for the Giving Challenge on April 28-29, 2020 but also helping Project 180 prepare for the seventh season of its Strong Voices lecture series through a $5,000 “Breaker of Chains” sponsorship.

CFSC is showing its support for our 2020 topic, “Celebrating Second Chance Employers,” an exploration of the benefits, challenges, and incentives in hiring formerly incarcerated citizens. Mark your calendars now for March 6, April 3, and May 8, 2020 at Michael’s on East in Sarasota, and a pre-series panel discussion at Pier 22 in Bradenton on February 7.

New this year! Networking from 11:00 to 11:30 at each luncheon. Tickets and sponsorships are available now by clicking here.

Read about Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s current areas of impact here: Season of Sharing, the Two-Generation Approach to reducing poverty, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, and The Giving Partner.

Many, many thanks to the CFSC Board of Directors, Roxie, and staff for partnering with Project 180 once again in the Strong Voices lecture series!

A Note From the CEO
Thank you for being a part of the Project 180 family and supporting educational programs for incarcerated citizens, the Strong Voices lecture series, our Information & Referral system for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated citizens, and Nik’s House Residential Program.

You’ve brought Project 180 a long way. We’re proud of our progress and hope you are, too.

With sincere thanks,
Barbara Richards
Project 180