The OBK Board of Directors reviewed and revised the outline for the presentation to the East St. Louis Planning Commission. The approved outline includes the following:
⦁ Introduction to OBK Board, Advisory Board & Guests
⦁ Mission Statement and Detailed Expansion of Mission Statement
⦁ Our Request of the Planning Commission
⦁ Executive Summary
⦁ Faith-based Agencies Serving the East St. Louis Community
⦁ Letters of Support for a Reentry Home
⦁ Personal Testimony for a Returning Citizen
⦁ Conceptual Building Plan
⦁ Resident’s Application Form
⦁ Residence Operations Handbook
⦁ How OBK Came to Be – Origin and Development

The presentation details follow:
– Detailed Expansion of OBK Mission Statement
– OBK Request of the ESL Planning Commission
– OBK Executive Summary to ESL Planning Commission

Detailed Expansion of OBK Mission Statement

Our Brothers’ Keepers of Southern Illinois is a faith-based organization that is dedicated to the full integration of formerly incarcerated persons, “returning citizens”, into the St. Clair County, Illinois, community.

Our Brothers’ Keepers assists returning citizens in attaining productive citizenship by participation in reentry services. This ordinarily includes supportive housing.

United in spirit and purpose, Our Brothers’ Keepers serves adult males released from prisons as well as those previously on parole. All such individuals must reside in St. Clair County, Illinois, in order to be participants in its reintegration services.

Productive citizenship is the full integration of a person into the St. Clair County, Illinois, community. Full integration is demonstrated by a stable lifestyle which includes dignified housing, necessary identification, employment and/or a reliable income (such as SSI, SS, disability), possession of life skills, a sincere willingness to become sober/addiction free as needed, and strong family and faith-based relationships.

Our Brothers’ Keepers recognizes that each person has a unique history, strengths, talents, abilities and challenges. Each participant completes a thorough self-assessment to learn the next steps of his reentry into the community. Qualified social service personnel assist each participant in the assessment and in forming a unique life plan.

Our Brothers’ Keepers recognizes that, for participants to become fully integrated into community, the community must also be involved in the process. With collaboration as the foundation, Our Brothers’ Keepers reaches out to all social and human services providers, faith communities and government agencies, to help in the process of full integration.

Special emphasis is placed on acquiring life and career skills designed for returning citizens. Through a computer-based program, this education also provides participants with instruction and practice for successful employment.

Since many returning citizens are released from prisons with inadequate or no support, participants reside in supportive housing staffed by counselors. Reentry begins with shared-occupancy, which continues for each participant until he proves that he can pay for and maintain adequate housing in the long-term.

OBK Request of the ESL Planning Commission
Thank you for the opportunity to present our vision for a reentry home for returning citizens. On behalf of the Board of Directors of Our Brothers’ Keepers of Southern Illinois, I am asking for this Commission to support this endeavor.
The support needed is your acceptance and partnership. This home provides a supportive environment for men returning to the East St. Louis community, not moving here from elsewhere. As such, their acceptance by our community is the most critical step to their re-integration as fully participating members of the community. The Planning Commission’s partnership would aid us in moving this project forward by assisting in managing the regulatory and administrative steps necessary to bring this project to fruition. Without the Planning Commission on board, we recognize that no progress is possible.
We also request your assistance in identifying and obtaining properties suitable for this project. This could take the form of vacant land or existing structures made available as a donation or at a nominal cost. Any such gift from the City would be structured so as to revert to the City should this home not be operational within a specified time frame, such as 24 months.
We are not seeking funding from the City. We anticipate those private donations (individual, corporate, foundations) and state funding sources to be sufficient to fully fund the construction and operation of the reentry home.
In short, we are asking you to become advocates for the creation of this reentry home for returning citizens. It is only with your help that this vision will become reality.
Thank you again for your consideration of this effort.
Michael Berens
Acting President

OBK Executive Summary to ESL Planning Commission
Our Brothers’ Keepers of Southern Illinois (“OBK”) is a 501(c)(3) not for profit corporation organized for the purpose of assisting formerly incarcerated persons (“returning citizens”) to attain productive citizenship and full integration into the community. In furtherance of this purpose, OBK is seeking to work together with the City of East St. Louis to establish a reentry home which will provide housing and support services for returning citizens. This home is envisioned to serve about seven returning citizens.
OBK was established in 2013 as a result of an initiative undertaken by retired Bishop Stanley G. Schlarman and Father Christian Reuter. This initiative rapidly expanded to include a number of ecumenical and secular partners, which resulted in the establishment of a broad-based Advisory Board drawn from many areas of the community along with a representative Board of Directors. Much work has been done to provide a solid foundation for the creation of the reentry house which is to serve as the focal point of OBK’s efforts to assist returning citizens.
Many agencies already serve the St. Clair County and East St. Louis communities. These agencies provide a compelling example of the manner in which people can be assisted in realizing their full abilities. OBK anticipates that its reentry home will draw on this base of support and serve as a partner in increasing the reach of existing services.
Since its inception, OBK has relied on the backing of a wide variety of community stake-holders. This is evidenced by the letters of support provided with this packet.
Planning is underway for the construction of a seven person reentry home. This would be built if a suitable existing structure is not identified.
As part of the foundational preparations, OBK has developed an explicit set of guidelines for the residents of the reentry home, along with an exhaustive application process.