Fundraiser for a fresh start - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Fundraiser for a fresh start

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It was a packed house at the West Rutland Town Hall on Sunday afternoon -- for the Annual Variety Show. Aside from show casing local talent -- it's a fundraiser.

This is the 4th year volunteers have put on the variety show and historically have raised thousands of dollars., This year, 100% of those proceeds will go to the Rutland Dismas house.

The house helps ex-inmates looking for a second chance.

Terry Ash, a Dismas House resident said, "I kind of went off the deep end there when I lost both my parents and stuff like that - I didn't reach out for the support that was needed. Thought I could take things into my own hands - but obviously I couldn't."

Terry Ash is one of 8 current Residents staying at the Dismas House in Rutland. The house is an option for inmates who are released but have no home to go back to. The residents must apply through a three-interview process that rejects drug dealers and sex offenders. Terese Black has been co-director of the dismas house for a decade. She says she knows it can be alarming for former prisoners to be living in residential areas, but it doesn't necessarily have to be.

Terese Black is the Co-Director at Dismas House. She said, "These are your sons and your daughters and your borthers and your fathers. And they are just like us. They made bad choices like all of us do, they got caught."

The house is funded by United Way and the Department of Corrections. All residents must also pay a rent of $75 per week. That covers utilities, meals, a variety of services, and -- what Black says is most important -- a sense of community.

"Well there are a lot of struggles - ups and downs - here. Everybody is on the same page. We are all coming out of jail and reintegrating back into the community and stuff like that. Everybody has the same struggles." said Ash.

Once residents have stayed 90 days -- Black says they are likely to stay out of trouble. Over 80% don't return to jail. Most of the former prisoners who live in the house battle addictions.

"All of us know how hard it is to change and make changes in our life. Be it, wanting to quit drinking not use drugs, loose weight, get out of an unhealthy relationship -- changes are hard." comments Terese Black.

Ash says without Dismas House his life would be very different.

"Honestly I think I would still be in jail." said Ash.

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