INDIANAPOLIS — New Life Development Ministries on the West Side of Indy is helping men get back on their feet as they get out of jail.
It’s a mission that Reverend Eugene Potter began decades ago in Baltimore, and for 14 years he has worked in his hometown of Indianapolis.
“A lot of times it’s very difficult for a man coming out of prison to get started. So our focus is on training and employing,” Potter said.
New Life is a back-to-school organization located at 28th and Clifton streets. Their goal is to connect people to resources and help them set goals. When funding is available, they also offer construction training.
“They have a life skill set. It’s important and we’ve helped hundreds of people, but we need to help thousands,” Potter said.
The ministry has an on-site training center under construction which was set up just before the pandemic. It is now being leveraged through partnerships with organizations such as the Kheprw Institute and the Urban League of Indianapolis.
After two recent cohorts of training with Kheprw, Potter says each person has been offered a job.
“It’s 100%. Now these are men who have had criminal histories with all kinds of problems, and any of them who wanted one could get a job,” Potter said.
In order to help even more men, New Life needs additional partnerships and funding. Potter’s long-term goal is to open a construction training school
“It’s going to take a different level of money. We need about $250,000 a year to train 50 students,” Potter said.
James Hardin arrived at New Life a year after his release from prison in 2012.
“I always wanted to be a plumber,” Hardin said. “The New Life Development Ministry has been a wonderful and powerful tool in uplifting me and moving me forward in this direction.”
Hardin says the ministry helped him get his driver’s license, set goals and, most importantly, develop a mindset to succeed. He now has his own plumbing business.
“This ministry is needed because I don’t look down on any of my younger brothers here, but they need a place to go,” Hardin said. “This will be a better place to start than for them to be in someone’s prison.”