Nice STrib story on Richard Coffey: 180 Degrees battled COVID-19 on top of tough mission to assist ex-offenders

BleedGopher

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per Neal:

For paroled offenders, homeless teenagers and others helped by the nonprofit firm 180 Degrees, the coronavirus crisis has changed risks and needs.

Each year, 180 Degrees assists 200 former Minnesota offenders find training, housing and work within a few months of parole. It also provides emergency shelter and services for 1,000-plus homeless teens in the Twin Cities, St. Cloud and Rochester.

Around the state, nonprofits took an estimated $1 billion hit in April as the COVID-19 virus and instant recession derailed spring fundraising and curtailed other revenue streams.

180 Degrees CEO Dan Pfarr and program director Richard Coffey in 2019 completed a multiyear financial turnaround of the once-ailing, 50-year-old social enterprise. They cut ancillary programs, collaborated with other agencies and accelerated private fundraising.

At Clifton Place, a halfway house operated by 180 Degrees near downtown Minneapolis, staff was buoyed in recent years by increasing numbers of ex-offenders who landed $15-an-hour jobs with a future, finding places to live and lower prison-recidivism rates. Employers were starting to view ex-offenders as a resource in an employee-hungry economy. Skills, a paycheck and new friends at work can be a powerful, positive purpose.

But the coronavirus crisis instantly pushed Minnesota’s unemployment to levels not seen since the early 1980s.

“Our job is to help these guys become productive citizens and to protect society,” said Coffey, a one-time Army paratrooper and Minnesota Gophers basketball great in the 1980s. “We work with these guys to become accountable. They are trying to get their lives together and earn respect. They have committed a crime and paid dearly.

“Before COVID, jobs weren’t the issue. It was housing. No one wants to rent to a felon. And you don’t want to rent from a slumlord … who may demand a couple of months rent and then claim you’re dealing drugs, which can be a parole violation and get you back in prison. Our guys have very little power.”


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go_gophers

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Amir's dad may be my all-time favorite Gopher. It sure is nice when a hero ends up being as good a person as you'd hoped he'd be.
 
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builtbadgers

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Amir's dad may be my all-time favorite Gopher. It sure is nice when a hero ends up being as good a person as you'd hoped he'd be.
Love it when a player ends up exceeding what they did on the court by a long shot. No matter how good they were.
 
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