OAR of Richmond, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to helping individuals who have been impacted by the criminal justice system since 1971 has impacted thousands of lives by providing reentry services and support to individuals returning to the community after incarceration. From hygiene kits to JMHP (Jail Mental Health Program) and its Ride 2 Reentry program providing bikes to clients overcoming the fundamental issue of transportation, OAR has been a safe haven for those affected by the justice system.
OAR of Richmond has a long and prosperous history of serving the community. Its founders recognized the need for support and resources for individuals returning to the community after incarceration during the prison riots of the early 1970s. They set out to provide services to help them successfully reintegrate into society and have since served thousands of clients.
Sara Dimick has been with OAR for 12 years and executive director since 2015. Beginning as the community engagement coordinator, Dimick found passion in her work and quickly made her way to the leader of the organization.
We had the opportunity to talk with Dimick about OAR and its mission and learn a little bit more about the organization’s needs.
What’s the inspiration behind OAR?
The inspiration is to treat every person we serve with dignity and respect and to empower each person we serve to their own individual success. OAR provides these person-centered services, and our staff are truly inspired by the clients themselves and all that they teach us.
What is the reasoning behind OAR’s language use toward clients?
OAR of Richmond, Inc. seeks to always work from a person-centered approach. This means that all of our clients are called by their names and treated as individuals. OAR does not use terms such as felon, offender or ex-offender. This is the derogatory language that puts a negative light on a person’s life. We seek to highlight positives and work towards success – therefore we don’t define an individual’s past with these words.
What’s your most successful client program and why?
Our most-known program is Ride 2 Reentry, which provides clients with a bike, lock, lights and helmet and education on how to maintain the bike and the rules of the road. Our largest program is our post-release community reentry services, which provide intensive case management and peer support to those released from incarceration within the last six months.
What are the organization’s most urgent needs?
Funding and donations of full-size hygiene products, new boxers, socks and undershirts. We are always looking for new partners in funding and supplies for our clients. Our other most urgent need is spreading the word about who we are and what we do in order for the Richmond community to know about us.
How can the community get more involved?
We have many volunteer opportunities and monthly giving opportunities. Contact Latifah at email@example.com for volunteer opportunities.
Where do you hope to see OAR in five years?
Continued, sustainable growth. Continued service to Richmond’s returning citizen population and doing a bit more advocacy work. Helping our clients use their own voices and lived experiences to speak up for needed legislative change!
The Future for OAR of Richmond
The future of OAR of Richmond is prosperous as the organization continues to expand its programs and services to meet the needs of the community. It also is focused on sustaining the organization’s growth. This includes building more partnerships with other organizations and stakeholders, increasing visibility and outreach efforts and continuing to build a strong and dedicated team of staff and volunteers.
However, OAR knows that growth within its organization alone is not enough to create lasting change in the criminal justice system. The future of OAR will have a focus on advocating for policies that support reentry and rehabilitation, and promoting alternatives to traditional disciplinary measures. With a continued focus on both growth and advocacy, OAR is well positioned to continue making a positive impact on the lives of those impacted by the criminal justice system for years to come.
To Help OAR of Richmond continue to provide vital services and support those who need it more, visit www.OARric.org