December 19, 2013
A peer group that helps ex-prisoners held a Christmas gathering Thursday night.
Believers and Achievers met at Crescent Halls in Charlottesville.
"We celebrated really beautifully here tonight. We brought our families out," said member Curtis Gilmore, Jr., who brought his great-nephews. "We all came together, like we always have."
The group invited new and old members and their families to celebrate the year and looked ahead to 2014.
"It's the holidays and we just bring everyone together once a year," said member Deborah Gentry. "Those that are still here and some have already up and gone, running their own businesses or what have you, but we make sure that we reach out and see how they're doing and we invite them to come in and join with us and ring in the ending of the year, as well as the beginning of the year."
Believers and Achievers, founded in 2010, is a peer network that advocates for and supports offenders, ex-offenders, families and friends. The group has helped ex-prisoners from making them care packages for to helping them find jobs.
"We have reached out in so many ways. We go in and out of the jails, we give care bags to ex-offenders and re-entries. We do so many things," said Gilmore.
The group ate, went over their roster and checked in with eachother, and listened to a visitor introduce her work on a focus group Believers and Achievers may help.
"All of us that's in this group today, we have been standing fast. We have been holding it together, and we're gonna hold it together because we're family. And there's nothing like family," said Gilmore.
If you are a family member, ex-prisoner, or are interested in Believers and Achievers, the group meets every Thursday from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Crescent Halls activity room. The group welcomes everyone.
"It's open to whoever feels they need to come into this room," said Gentry. "We don't send anyone out of this room. Everybody's opinon counts."
"Our door is always open."
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