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“Dismas House is Family” – Father Jack Hickey, OP, Founder

Many folks from all walks of life, ages, and backgrounds have come through the front doors of Dismas House since we first opened our doors in April of 1988. Hundreds of ex-prisoners have stabilized at Dismas House before moving back into the central Massachusetts community. Our community has been extraordinarily diverse as well students from The College of the Holy Cross, Clark University, Assumption College, Anna Maria College, University of Notre Dame, and Quinsigamund College have lived here. International volunteers from Australia, Burma, England, Japan, Israel, South Korea, France, and Scotland have lived and volunteered here. Following is a small sample of some of our former prisoner Dismas success stories.

Dismas House Profiles of Success

The following former residents’ names have been changed.

Ken ~ Ken came to Dismas House after serving time for armed robbery, a robbery fueled by his addiction to crack. He started his own contractor’s business, the stress of which caused him to relapse and be re-incarcerated. His second residency at Dismas proved to be a turning point in his life. Ken recommitted himself to his NA/AA meetings, and took a job as a roof salesman. Ken is now happily married and reunited with his daughter with a few years of sobriety under his belt.

Raymond ~ Ray arrived at Dismas from the Worcester County House of Corrections, where he had a rough go of it, including a fight which cost him his front tooth. He was sick of jail life. He embraced Dismas House as a last chance to better his life, as he was entering middle age. Raymond worked with Dismas staff to find employment stocking shelves at an area grocer. Ray is now night crew chief, paid his student loan back, and has regained his driver’s license.

Miguel ~ Miguel spent many years on the streets of major cities in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He had some debilitating health issues and an addiction that kept his work record spotty and his arrest record long. Miguel became house manager during his stay at Dismas a position reserved for residents who make an extra effort to build a strong community. Miguel is happily married in Connecticut to a pharmacy manager, visits Worcester frequently, and is addressing his long term health issues while also securing work.

Mikaela ~ Mikaela was caught up in a life of despair, domestic violence, and crime. She landed in MCI Framingham, the Massachusetts’ Womens’ Prison, to serve a sentence for a poverty-related crime. She moved into Dismas, where staff helped her secure work for an area manufacturer. She spent the next eight years working there, and built a solid foundation for her own recovery from drugs and alcohol- a recurrent problem for our residents. Mikaela is a neighbor and an inspiration to our women residents.

Tom ~ Tom is closing in on eighty. He grew up here and owned his own, very successful transportation company. He made the mistake of getting involved in trafficking drugs on his company buses. Tom finished his bid and moved into Dismas House where staff assisted him with health issues and in securing permanent housing on a limited income. Tom lives happily in Worcester and is a frequent guest at dinner and to our food pantry.

Felix ~ Felix is one of the original graduates of Dismas. After battling his addiction issues for years, Felix finally hit rock bottom in prison. He took advantage of the new Dismas House program, where staff and Board helped him start over. Felix is now a successful area jeweler.

Richard ~ Rich came to us in the hot summer months with a profound limp and accompanying health problems. He had a large family to support after being released. Dismas staff assisted him in immediately securing healthcare coverage, elder services, and in finding gainful employment. Determined to give back to the community, Rich took a job working the overnight shift at a local shelter. Rich has since moved with his family to Florida and visits when in Worcester

Betty ~ Betty, another inmate from Massachusetts women’s prison, Framingham, came to Dismas with limited work history and a few minor criminal offenses related to her drug dependency. She started a vigorous schedule of NA meetings and therapy which helped her work through many issues and see the root causes of her addiction. Betty has worked for the same local catering company for the last nine years.

Chuck ~ A graduate of a local Catholic High School, Chuck ran into problems while experimenting with drugs. Experimenting with drugs led to his insatiable need to feed his cravings. As drug addiction is a very expensive habit, Chuck broke into someone’s house at night and assaulted and robbed him. Caught by the local police, Chuck served his time, during which he took advantage of the prison’s limited offerings for drug treatment. He also applied to live at Dismas House on parole. Chuck has spent the last several years as head of a landscape crew and he works hard on his recovery.

Gary ~ A gourmet chef, a love of music, a great sense of humor, and a problem with drugs these allow only a window into the former Dismas resident Gary. Gary moved into Dismas after serving a county sentence for possession of drugs. A graduate of a renowned Culinary Institute, Gary learned the hard way that a fast paced, five star restaurant environment and drug addiction are tough to maintain together. Gary catered many Dismas events, and threw our most memorable Thanksgiving celebration to date. Currently, he has moved home where he prepares meals for seniors at a senior center.

Hector ~ Hector is a devout person who has used his faith to move him past his problems with drugs and crime. He followed a different path to recovery than traditional reliance on meetings and therapy. Only in his twenties, Hector has nonetheless moved on in his life, and has held a position in the meat department of a regional supermarket for the past four years.

“For the first time in my life I feel like the person that I always wanted to be. Its not easy. Its amazing how when you just allow someone to help you, like Dismas House did, your life changes. I’m not confused, alone, and scared anymore.” Mike, a Dismas alum.

“Some say ‘ All Humanity is Family.” At Dismas, we live it. People from completely disparate walks of life come together and create community.” – former Dismas student resident

“I don’t recall ever witnessing so many people of such diverse character and background coming together with such determination for a single cause.” – Alison, international volunteer from England.

“Dismas House has taken the ideal of prisoner reconciliation and built an excellent and nationally recognized model here in Worcester. As part of their successful strategy in prisoner reentry, Dismas House has invested in wrap-around services that provide everything from tuition assistance to family reunification services.”
– Most Reverend George E. Rueger, Auxilary Bishop of Worcester