White Collar/Economy Exiled Support Group
Meets Online on Monday Evenings. Our 192nd Meeting is on Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, 7 pm ET, 6 pm CT, 5 pm MT, 4 pm PT
Dear Fellow Travelers,
Progressive Prison Ministries and St. Joseph’s Mission Church invite you to join our Confidential Online White Collar/Economy Exiled Support Group. We hold our group meetings on Monday evenings, 7 to 8:15 pm Eastern, 6 to 7:15 pm Central, 5 to 6:15 pm Mountain, 4 to 5:15 pm Pacific.
We are doing something truly groundbreaking! This is the world’s first Confidential Online White Collar/Economy Exiled Support Group. As this support group is run by ordained clergy as part of a program of pastoral care and confession, we expect and believe it falls under clergy privilege laws.
This is a huge step in forming a community of individuals, families and groups with white-collar criminal justice issues and who are otherwise economy exiled who have a desire to take responsibility for their actions and the wreckage they caused, make amends, and to change their lives and move forward in new way of life centered on hope, care, compassion, tolerance and empathy. Our experience shows us that many of us are suffering in silence with shame, remorse, and deep regret. Many of us have been stigmatized by our own families, friends and communities, and the business community. Our goal is to learn and evolve into a new spiritual way of life and then to reach out to offer all those suffering from these issues. In so doing, we will share our experiences, feelings and resources to help make the quality of each other’s lives more manageable. This is an important thing we are doing!
We held a powerful meeting last week! Thus far, Fellow Travelers have participated online from Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington State, Canada South America and the Caribbean. All have agreed this has been a valuable, important experience in which everyone feels less alone, and gratified in the opportunity to talk about things in a safe space only we could understand.
We have formed agreements as to confidentiality, anonymity and civility, and have a basic agenda for each meeting:
2. Serenity Prayer:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
3. Short Member Introductions (if there is a new member)
4. Announcements & Resource Sharing
5. Guest Speaker and/or Lead on Topic
6. Member Sharing
Login Instructions and Link are sent out weekly. We have set up an account with Zoom for our group, and you can log in via video on a computer, tablet or smart phone that is equipped with a camera, or audio only via phone. Please use headphones if you can so that we can minimize feedback and background noise. Each meeting will have a different meeting number to best provide confidentiality.
For Newcomers, I (or the night’s leader) will be online fifteen minutes before the scheduled start of the meeting. Zoom works wonderfully, however, it might take a little time to get comfortable with on your end if you’ve never been on this platform.
If you have suggestions for other fellow travelers to join this group, please call or email me to discuss. Our goal is to be inclusive.
IMPORTANT!: If you are currently on supervised release, probation or parole, it is important that you first discuss this with your P.O. To assist in this regard, information about our ministry is available on prisonist.org.
Please feel free to contact me if you would like to join in our next meeting, or with any questions you might have regarding this group, its meetings, or anything else whatsoever.
Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div
Co-Founder, Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc.
Greenwich CT & Nationwide
Mailing: P.O. Box 1, Woodbury, CT 06798
Link to Contact Info & Appointments.
Forbes Article: White Collar Defendants have a Place to go for Support. Progressive Prison Ministries Celebrates its 150th meeting, April 2019. Link here.
“Jeff is a true inspiration to anyone coming home from prison to face the many trials and tribulations that life throws at you. I made a very bad choice in 2009 which led me to a federal indictment and 7 months in Danbury Federal Prison Camp for women and then three months in a halfway house. I had gut wrenching guilt and remorse, and immersed myself in every program available in Danbury. I was seeking self-awareness of who I was and why I veered off my path of good decision making. It was not until I came home and met Jeff Grant that I truly started my journey to redemption and forgiveness. His amazing attitude, coupled with immense experience, brought such clarity to my very foggy existence. Jeff founded a White Collar Support Group and invited me to join in. Finding that group was such a turning point for me as I was lost. The group helped me with my immense feelings of guilt and how to overcome adversities that I never knew would exist for me. I am grateful to Jeff and all the men and women in that group and feel so fortunate to know I am not alone in my journey. Due to Jeff, I am able to give back to the women I now work with within the criminal justice system by utilizing my strengths, experience and educational background. “ – Jacqueline Polverari, MSW, Advocate Women’s Incarceration Issues, Connecticut
“Shortly after my release in September 2015, I was guided to Jeff’s door by complete chance and little did I know that I had just hit the proverbial “reentry” lottery that would help shape and change my life. I asked for his guidance about how I could possibly return to society as a once respected trial lawyer who was now branded a convicted felon. After words of support, Jeff suggested that I join the White Collar Support Group which met each week via the Internet. Not sure that I could even log in, as I was still living in a halfway house. I managed to find a library or satellite to check in, and can honestly say that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. This support group has given me an opportunity to share my thoughts, concerns and emotional trauma with a compassionate and understanding group of people who all traveled a similar journey and who all have now become good friends. There is no question that those who have experienced the criminal justice system all face common problems, barriers and trauma as we begin our reintegration into society. I am proud to say that I am associated with this fine group of people and hope and pray that some day we can share the lessons and benefits of the peer support and mentoring that has helped me to find my passion and purpose in life. Thank you!” – Jeffrey Abramowitz, Pennsylvania
“I received an invitation from Jeff Grant of Progressive Prison Ministries in August 2016 to attend a White Collar Support Group meeting. I was reluctant and hesitant about accepting the invitation because I had my reservation about what this group was going to tell me about serving time in a Federal Prison and the challenges and difficulties post incarceration. Being a convicted felon, I have endured a multitude of challenges post incarceration. To be frank incarceration was the easy part and the biggest challenge was how I was going to reintegrate myself into society once I got home and how I was seen as “enriched uranium” by others. I left federal prison psychologically and emotionally broken, I was a wreck! I was released from federal prison in the summer of 2008 and it took me seven years to deal with the psychological carnage and to obtain inner peace. Looking back at this journey I wish that there would have been a White-Collar Support Group when I got out of prison and my pain curve would not have been so steep. Getting on Jeff’s call was a breath of fresh air as I was able to meet other men and women who had endured the shame and embarrassment of being a convicted felon. Jeff brings a spiritual component to his group which in my opinion is critical as it helps with the healing process. I applaud Jeff for creating this organization as it helps convicted felons who have been ostracized by society in providing ministerial counseling, empathy, compassion and support. I have met some incredible people in this group and I look forward to being an active participant for many years.” – Douglas Mairena, Virginia
When I first joined the White Collar Support Group, I was nervous and not committed. I heard there were other women on the call but they were not on the first couple of calls I was on. I felt anxious as the only person of color on the calls as well as the only woman. Over time, I developed more trust and became more vulnerable to the group. I have never felt pressured to share or be anyone different on these calls. I now look forward to our weekly time because it is the one time a week when I feel whole regardless of whether I am having an “up” day or a “down” day. There is nothing like a shared experience with people who have walked your walk and know exactly what you are talking about. When new people come to the calls, I am eager to put a metaphorical arm around their shoulders and remind them of what they already know but have temporarily forgotten: “You will survive. You will have some up days. You will have some down days but we are all here for you. And…. Yes, you will survive. Life will never be the same again but you will survive. You will discover that you are really an amazing person in the process. You will survive.”
So many people come to the call in a complete state of panic. Their situation is not what they bargained for. They are losing everything they once knew. They want to know how to make it all go away. They want to know how they can regain everything they are afraid of losing. The calls become a place where your entire humanity, not just your mistakes, are affirmed and upheld as valuable. The calls are the one place of refuge where we are reminded that we are NOT, in any way shape or form, our crimes. The calls are one place where our whole humanity is affirmed. We do not give legal advice but we give soul support that helps build resilience. And in the long run, it is a game of resilience.
The best part of these calls over the last couple of years has been taking relationships off-line. I have met several of the men and women that have been on the calls. They are more than friends. They are Anam Cara, the Celtic word for “Soul Friend.” I love our transparency. I love how we are all striving to be our best selves. I love the support and love I receive. I love the celebrations of our successes no matter how small and I love the encouragement I receive when I am down. Most of all, I have turned this into an accountability group. I still wrestle with why I made the poor decisions I made and committed a financial crime. I do not want to be that person. I want to be a person that makes smart decisions. I want to be a person that is fully aware of the ethical impact of my decisions on other people and also on institutions. On the calls, I continue to get help in the areas that I feel the weakest. I know that because of these calls and the support and non-judgment that I receive, that I am able to grow beyond the limitations that my crime has placed on my life. – Anonymous, Georgia
As a practicing attorney in a one-man firm, I took money from my client trust account to help meet business expenses and to keep my own household afloat. Of course, I knew this was wrong and that eventually it would catch up with me. A few months ago it did, so now I am facing a prison sentence of two or three years.
During the months following my indictment I was fortunate enough to find the website created by Jeff Grant as a ministry to non-violent white collar criminals. Jeff is a former attorney, a convicted felon, an ex-convict, and an ordained minister. At a time when it seemed my life lay in ruins I was welcomed into a caring White Collar Support Group of individuals who are facing or, perhaps more importantly, have already faced, terms of imprisonment for crimes like my own. The majority are former convicts who have a true mission to help each other grow back into this world outside, to share the wisdom earned through their experiences and to acknowledge positive aspects of these years.
The group has weekly meetings, on line with real-time video conferencing. Over the past several months I have felt the power of belonging with a very special new set of friends. So much of my experience has isolated me from the community I used to know. Jeff’s group has provided a fellowship of people with whom I related immediately. This resource is also providing me with practical advice as I prepare to enter the prison system. The group inspires me every time we meet. Though I’m not a member of any faith in particular, I know a blessing when I see one. My profound thanks to Jeff and to those who gather here with him. – Anonymous, Maine
Link to additional testimonials here.