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RED BANK: ‘RE-ENTRY’ THROUGH THE KITCHEN

red-bank-052721-oscanlon-mcgreevey-gopal-500x332-1287440State Senators Declan O’Scanlon, left, and Vin Gopal flank ex-Governor Jim McGreevey as he speaks with Re-Entry participants at Soul Kitchen Thursday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

“Nobody should be defined by their worst decision,” former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey said on a visit to Red Bank Thursday.

That’s particularly true for ex-felons who may never have learned the basic skills needed to become self-sufficient members of society, he said.

red-bank-052721-nakisha-500x332-4558867Nakisha Bradley in the Soul Kitchen garden. Below, Dorothea Bongiovi of the JBJ Soul Foundation. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

red-bank-052721-dorothea-bongiovanni-220x146-8790325

McGreevey, who resigned as governor in 2004 amid a scandal over an extramarital affair, was at the JBJ Soul Kitchen on Monmouth Street to promote “second chances” via the New Jersey Re-Entry Corporation, a nonprofit he  heads. The organization provides a pathway back to society for people released from prison.

“This is all about second chances,” said McGreevey. “We all make mistakes in our lives, and it’s all about doing the next right thing.”

For many of Re-Entry’s clients, “it’s getting into healthy patterns and behavior.”

Soul Kitchen, he said, is “a sacred place. It’s about restoring and replenishing the soul, and new beginnings.”

Soul Kitchen, where in-need customers are asked to volunteer in some fashion and paying customers are asked to pay more than the cost of their meal, is accepting Re-Entry clients as both volunteers and trainees, said Brian McGillivray, who runs Re-Entry’s Neptune City operation.

“They’re hiring some of our folks to start from the bottom – learn the kitchen, prep cook, dishwasher, and eventually, chef,” said McGillivray. “To get their foot in the door and begin a career.”

“We’re about dignity, we’re about inclusion, we’re about community,” said Soul Kitchen founder Dorothea Bongiovi, whose famous husband, rock star Jon Bon Jovi, is known to help out with the dishwashing, as she addressed a gathering of nonprofit leaders and elected officials.

Nakisha Bradley, of Neptune, went from the state prison for women into the Re-Entry program three years ago, and is now getting healthcare and career training, she told redbankgreen.

“It keeps me clean, it keeps me cool, and it also shows me that I can help others who come out of prison,” she said.

For more information visit www.njreentry.org and jbjsoulkitchen.org.

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