A Community Effort to Reduce Recidivism

by Kate Brunk

Labyrinth Made Goods is an outgrowth of the YWCA McLean County's Labyrinth Outreach Services to Women a program dedicated to reducing recidivism through women's empowerment. Our community came together in so many ways to support the founding of YWCA Labyrinth. Labyrinth Made Goods continues that legacy through our partnership with multiple community organizations to provide our employees and participants with the best support and resources our community has to offer.

Labyrinth Outreach Services for Women began 2012 with two community leaders on a mission to empower women who were ready to rebuild their lives after experiencing incarceration. Mary Campbell and Feli Sebastian saw the need for housing, counseling, mentoring, and employment support for women transitioning back to our community. They knew that without stable housing and employment opportunities, these folks would be much more likely to go back to jail or prison. Mary and Feli were passionate about building an organization that could help women meet their needs and rebuild their lives on a solid foundation for success.

Over the next four years, Mary, Feli, and their tireless group of supporters and clients worked hard to grow the program and its resources. They inspired many in the community to get involved and largely through volunteers and pro bono services renovated two condemned properties in West Bloomington to support Labyrinth’s now thriving transitional housing program.

By 2016, Labyrinth House was ready for its grand opening and Mary and Feli saw an opportunity to make Labyrinth Outreach and the support it offered more integrated with existing community services and more sustainable by partnering with YWCA McLean County.

YWCA McLean County is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. YWCA McLean County took over Labyrinth Outreach Services to Women in 2016, integrating it into YWCA McLeans’s existing programs and network of support. YWCA has continued to expand and grow Labyrinth’s reach. Last year, YWCA Labyrinth Outreach provided support and services to over 90 women in McLean County.

From the beginning, Mary, Feli, and YWCA McLean’s leaders dreamed of creating a structured way for Labyrinth clients to develop and practice professional skills and gain employment experience to enable them to find and secure careers that offer living wages and opportunities for growth. They decided a social enterprise would be the best way to accomplish these goals.

Labyrinth Made Goods is the social enterprise started by YWCA McLean County to make that dream a reality. At Labyrinth Made Goods, we provide professional development, apprenticeships, and permanent employment to women who have experienced incarceration.

For women who have experienced incarceration, finding stable housing and gainful employment are two of the biggest factors inhibiting their ability to successfully rebuild their lives and work towards their personal and professional goals. Through the combined support offered by Labyrinth Made Goods, YWCA Labyrinth Outreach, and our network of community partners, we create opportunities that empower women to define their paths towards success. And we are here every step of the way as our participants, apprentices, and colleagues strive to make their dreams a reality.