Talbot Hall, a residential reentry center in Kearny, New Jersey, strives to better the lives of inmates by holding peer-led, skills-based vocational trainings. These trainings are conducted by experienced residents or residents certified in specific vocations, with the goal of teaching other residents skills that will prove beneficial and help them secure employment upon community release.
One such class popular among Talbot Hall residents is called Introduction to Owning Your Own Business. The class is taught by a resident and business owner, Patrick T., who saw fellow residents wanting to start their own business but with no idea how. Patrick recognized that teaching would benefit residents as well as himself, because it would give him a chance to take on a leadership role, act as a role model to others and channel his talents in a positive manner.
Topics covered in the class include creating a business plan, marketing, LLC and S corporation information, financing, and networking. To date, 105 residents have completed the class. And many residents in the class have expressed desires to start their own businesses — such as food trucks, barber shops, and landscaping and plumbing businesses — once they leave the center. Patrick said he is pleased when he sees residents staying after class to continue learning, working with their materials in their dorm rooms, anxiously asking questions and writing their marketing plans.
“We encourage residents to think, advance themselves and make good use of their time here,” said Sheila Leonardo, director of Talbot Hall. “We welcome residents passing on knowledge that builds skills. Talbot Hall is fortunate to have professionals who come to teach, and we are open to residents conducting peer-led instruction. Many successful careers in the trades have started here.”
Introduction to Owning Your Own Business adds to the cycle of vocational training offered at Talbot Hall. Others have included classes for CDL Commercial Truck Driving certifications, cleaning-specific classes, chemical use and pesticide classes, boiler maintenance, and ServSafe food preparation. Talbot Hall is planning to add additional skills-based training to its roster in the future.