Leaving prison isn’t always simple, and that’s where Mark Renick comes in.
Renick is the state coordinator for re-entry services for St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic volunteer organization. With a team of almost a dozen volunteers, he assists 12 to 17 people a week in the first hours after their release from prison. Most often it starts with a simple car ride from prison and a hot breakfast immediately after being released but can go as far as rental assistance, help in finding employment and support from others looking to get back on track after serving time.
The struggle of making the transition from being incarcerated back into society is not unfamiliar to Renick. He was convicted of robbery in 2004, went to prison, was released in 2011 and then went to Northwest Nazarene University for a graduate degree in social work. While he was on the inside, he formed a network of other older prisoners with whom he now works at St. Vincent de Paul to help other people who were in their shoes transition to a stable way of life.
“We don’t know who they are; all we know is they need a ride,” Renick said. “It doesn’t matter if they’ve been in two years or 10 years, a lot of things are changing for them very quickly.”