Teri became involved with Project RETURN through the Milwaukee Women Correction Center (MWCC) in 1995 when Project RETURN volunteers came into the center doing monthly socials. At that time it was Pastor Joe Ellwanger, two staff members and a couple of Marquette students.
We played games – and talked about what Project RETURN did for the people who were incarcerated and the inmates when they got out. Teri remembers those socials, “I liked how they interacted with us as people and not inmates.”
Over the months Teri had built a strong relationship with her case manager. The case worker asked if Teri would be interested in working at the adult center at Cross Lutheran Church. Teri jumped at the opportunity to get involved with the women at the church, helping with activities and food preparation such as setting up tables for the breakfast and lunch they serve to the adults every Tuesday. Teri recalls, “I met a lot of good women there who also nurtured my spiritual growth.”
Over the years Project RETURN asked Teri to volunteer in a variety of programs, from sharing her life through speaking engagements to focus groups to assisting with our Summer Youth Program. Teri was volunteering at Cross Lutheran Church’s Food Pantry when Project RETURN came calling once again. This time the need was for an employee, and Teri accepted the position.
“My greatest joy is being a case manager for Project RETURN; working in the prison ministry field , providing the clients with the same love and support that I received when I came through the door. As a case manager I provide the clients with the weekly job list, clothing assistance , housing information , furniture request , or anything we can help them with, even if it means just listening to them and taking the time out to let them know we are here for them and we will do everything that we can to make sure all or some of their needs are met.”