Project 180 volunteer Sal D’angelo‘s remarkable life journey began on the dangerous streets of Far Rockaway, NY, a section of Queens infamous for its violence and crime. The child of parents who both suffered with addictive disease, Sal developed his own by the age of 13, using cocaine, angel dust, ecstasy, and PCP.

Sal moved with his family from Far Rockaway to Tampa where he lived with his father during his teenage years. Arrested on charges of strong-arm robbery, burglary, grand theft, and dealing in stolen property, Sal was incarcerated in Lancaster Correctional Institute in Trenton, a Florida “gladiator” prison where violence among inmates and correctional officers was the norm.

Upon release, Sal’s reentry did not go smoothly. His addiction resulted in a return to crime, an overdose in a trailer park ditch, and another round of stealing to support his habit. Eventually a Sarasota County jail program helped him begin again. “’I was 29 years old. I’d been on the streets my whole life. You have to start your whole life over and forget everything you’ve ever known. It’s not simple’” (Levey-Baker, Sarasota Magazine, September 2017). Through hard work on himself, his faith, and the faith of others in him, he’s now giving back to others.

Today, in addition to holding a full-time job and being a new father, Sal volunteers to help run Project 180’s weekly Thursday night Support Circle for formerly incarcerated citizens where his leadership and quiet authenticity provide an anchor for others in the room. A thoughtful and reflective man, his willingness to share encourages others to speak up.

Sal is also the subject of a recent feature article by Cooper Levey-Baker in the September issue of Sarasota Magazine (freely quoted in this newsletter article). To read Cooper’s excellent piece about Sal, other justice-involved citizens, and Project 180, click here. A tale of struggle and triumph, it’s well worth the read.

Help advance Project 180’s Support Circle for formerly incarcerated citizens. Donate today.

Joyce A. Arditti, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Human Development

On Friday, March 2nd, Project 180’s annual lecture series on prisoner reentry issues begins with Joyce Arditti, PhD, professor of human development at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Her book, Parental Incarceration and the Family, won the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Outstanding Book Award in 2014 and garnered Dr. Arditti the Virginia Tech 2016 Alumni Award for Excellence in Research. For tickets, see the link below.

On April 6th, join us for “In Their Own Words,” a panel discussion moderated by Joy Mahler, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Suncoast, who will be introduced by Nancy Detert, County Commissioner. Our panelists—a mother, a father, a daughter, and a spouse—will discuss how their lives have been and continue to be impacted by the incarceration of a loved one.

On May 11th, in “A Mother’s Story: The Impact of Incarceration and Reentry on the Family,” Heather Palmer Roberts will discuss the intersection of addictive disease, the criminal justice system, loss, and love.

Luncheons will be held at The Francis, 1289 N. Palm Avenue, Sarasota beginning at 11:30 am and ending at 1:00 pm. The recommended arrival time is 11:15 am; free parking is available above Louie’s Modern.  Tickets are available at $30 each and include lunch. For sponsorships, please contact Barbara at

Tom Melville

New Leadership at Project 180

Project 180 welcomes Tom Melville as our new Board Chair. Currently the Executive Director of The Literacy Council of Sarasota, Tom is well aware of the low literacy levels that plague incarcerated individuals and how adult low-literacy rates impact all sectors of a community. His drive, strategic thinking, and goal of helping adults meet their educational objectives and get ahead in life have already greatly benefited Project 180.

Building on the groundwork laid by former Project 180 Board Chair Veronica Brandon Miller, Tom brings a wealth of experience to the organization. “Thanks to a solid foundation built by previous boards, Project 180 is now moving out of the start-up phase as we institute additional internal structures and create more sustainable, long-term programming. We’re excited to begin providing direct services, including our Support Circle for formerly incarcerated individuals and, most notably, our Residential Program.”

With over 20 years of nonprofit executive management experience, Tom is providing key leadership in board-level oversight in his new role as Chair. A military veteran with over ten years in active duty, his previous positions include working with homeless organizations, coalitions, and HIV/AIDS service agencies as well as in community foundation development and fundraising.

Tom’s accomplishments and experience are extensive but it doesn’t hurt that he also has a superior intellect and a wickedly funny sense of humor.

Tom earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Administration from State University of New York in Oswego, then spent ten years in the US Army. He spent most of that time at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) Foreign Language Center. For those unfamiliar with the DLI, graduates include senior US government officials, senators, and active duty service members from every branch of the US military. At DLI Tom studied Russian, in which he became fluent, as well as Central and Eastern European languages and cultures.

At Project 180, Tom keeps board meetings well-organized, purposeful and on point, staying actively engaged between meetings. Since assuming the Chair position in July, he has held officer elections, updated bylaws and policies, and formed committees, all with a clear sense of purpose in moving the organization to the next level.

Enthusiastically embracing tough community issues, Tom believes that the best way to help others and achieve social change is by combining leadership, compassion, and resources to create lasting solutions. It’s a great honor and pleasure to welcome Tom to such an important position at Project 180. Tom, we’re immensely grateful for all you do.

Help Project 180 achieve its Vision of reducing poverty, homelessness, unemployment, and criminal behavior among formerly incarcerated citizens.