A prisoner reentry program’s grand opening is today -- here are the details

Friends of Returning Citizens hosts its open house

Friends of Returning Citizens is a program of the Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance and tomorrow, September 18th, is the grand opening of their center.

DETROIT – Friends of Returning Citizens (FORC) is a program of the Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance and Sept. 18 is the grand opening of their center.

Craig Whilby and Jamil Allen-Bey are the co-founders of Friends of Returning Citizens and started the program after they were released from serving over 30 years in the Michigan prison system. Their mission is “to provide assistance for returning citizens as they navigate life after prison, as well as to advocate for criminal justice reform.”

Preparations for the grand opening event have been underway, but this program is far from new. They started right before the pandemic and have been helping people since, but with their new facility, they are hoping to get the word out and help even more people.

Craig Whilby speaks from experience when he says that “it can be kind of scary, coming back into a society that you don’t know.” Whilby served 32 years and was released in 2019.

“I took part in a robbery that a person lost their life in, and I’m regretful for it, but in a way, this is my way of giving back. You can’t bring back a life, but maybe we can save some lives, help some lives, and that’s what I’ve been doing since I got home,” said Whilby.

Craig is grateful for his family’s support, both while he was incarcerated and when he got out, but he knows not everyone is so fortunate, and that is why Friends of Returning Citizens was created.

“We give out bus cards, we give out vouchers to Meijer, Meijer gift cards, we give out socks, we give out underwear, we have t-shirts, all new. You can come in here and use the computers for job searches,”

The idea is to give people a fair opportunity at a second chance.

Their vision states:

Sister Kathy DeSantis, a board member of the program, says that the grand opening celebration is to let the community know that this resource is out there. “Everyone part of this program at the management level is a returning citizen. These three guys have been there and they want to talk about it, and they want to be encouraging and supportive, and they are.”

The open house will take place from 1:00-3:00 p.m. at 3127 Canfield Street.

For information about volunteering or donating you can call (313-926-6770) or email f.o.r.c.2023@gmail.com.

About the Authors:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.

Morgan is a Digital Editor and has been with WDIV since May of this year. She is also studying political science and communications at Wayne State University.