Center for People in Need provides programming, resources to help both incarcerated individuals and members of the community

Center for People in Need provides programming, resources to help both incarcerated individuals and members of the community


CONTACT Cara Wilwerding, Communications Manager

OFFICE 402-479-5712 |

Note: This is the fourth of an eight-part series about Vocational and Life Skills programs funded by LB907. Follow along to learn more about the programs’ goals, expectations and successes.

Dec. 6, 2017 (Lincoln, Neb.) – The Center for People in Need (CFPIN) provides classes and programs  for incarcerated individuals throughout the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) system, in addition to providing jobs, food, clothing, household goods, educational opportunities and language classes to members of the community.

Program Coordinator Matt Hill described the center, which started in 2003, as an organization that helps people (particularly families) overcome barriers to success.

“The secret to our success has been helping people change their outlook on themselves,” Hill said.

One of CFPIN’s many initiatives is the NDCS grant-funded TRADE (Tackling Recidivism And Developing Employability) program. It provides VLS training and case management services to those transitioning out of the criminal justice system. Vocational training programs include courses in Construction/Carpentry, Office Professionals, Forklift/Warehouse and Maintenance.

NDCS VLS Coordinator Kevin Hand said one of the initiatives he’s most excited about is the new TRADE welding class. Through this program, individuals assigned to the Community Corrections Center-Lincoln can learn about welding in the evenings and may continue their training up to 18 months after release. Hand described the welding class as a great way to start down a career path.

“It’s kind of a thinking outside of the box program,” Hand said. “It’s not certified, but CPFIN talked to four organizations who will take uncertified welders. They will be able to get started, and be certified if they show success.”

The center’s drive to help individuals invest in themselves is also apparent in their life skills and recovery training. TRADE provides courses on topics such as family outreach, common-sense parenting, communication skills, teamwork and self-help, financial literacy, resume writing, computer skills and job searching. Victim impact and domestic violence awareness and prevention classes are also available. 

“Amongst the folks who have taken our classes – they seem to be a bit more positive and a bit more focused on what they’re going to do after release,” Hill said.

Beyond prison services covered by NDCS’ grant, CFPIN also offers a myriad of external services that also help incarcerated individuals after release. Most notable of their programs are those centered around feeding individuals and families by collecting donations from food banks, local grocery stores and restaurants.

“Food is one of the biggest concerns if you’ve done time,” NDCS Reentry Administrator Grace Sankey-Berman said. “Going out there and trying to feed yourself three square meals a day can be a challenge. They take away some of that stress by providing food.”

To bring in non-food items, the center partners with Goods360 – a global organization that repurposes items that corporations cannot sell. Hill said each month Goods360 brings in about three semi-trucks full of personal hygiene items, diapers, furniture, household goods and clothing. CFPIN also seeks out tent and water bottle donations for the transient community.

Once the center has met community members’ most basic needs for survival, the organization goes above and beyond by offering language, educational and volunteer resources. Their English as a Second Language (ESL) program offers classes in Spanish, Arabic, Kurdish and Karen. A privately-funded grant program helps non-traditional students take classes at Southeast Community College – offering 45 free credit hours and a laptop computer. CFPIN is always seeking volunteers – a good opportunity for those in diversion programs or those just looking to give back.

“I think it really makes sense to partner with the Center for People in Need because in Lincoln they have been serving our population in a roundabout way for a long time,” NDCS Reentry Program Manager Steve Fannon said. “It’s really a one-stop shop to get most – if not all of a person’s needs met.”