Founded in 1989 by Sister Jackie Toben, SSND, Let’s Start has provided recovery, reentry and other services to formerly incarcerated women and their families, while also working to educate the public and advocate for public policy related to its mission.
CJM was founded in 1979 as a special program under the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic lay ministry, and became a standalone 501(c)3 organization in 2012. CJM programs and priorities also include reentry services, education and advocacy, while historically focusing on men.
“At a time when nonprofit resources are scarce, our two organizations are working toward making a bigger impact on the community and those in the most need, instead of competing for the same funding,” said CJM Executive Director Anthony D’Agostino.
“CJM envisions a future for those impacted by incarceration where their relationships and communities are safe and supportive, incarceration is minimized, and recidivism is eliminated. Supporting women and children with Let’s Start programs fits perfectly with that vision.”
As part of the merger, Let’s Start board directors will continue as a special advisory committee to the CJM board. Board President Catherine (Kitty) Keefe will transition to a CJM board director position. Additionally, Let’s Start Women’s Support Coordinator Toni Jordan has joined the CJM staff.
“Let’s Start is excited to merge with CJM,” said Keefe. “The partnership will extend CJM services to women who were served by Let’s Start while also making Let’s Start programs available to current and future CJM clients. We are delighted to have found a wonderful fit for focus and mission in CJM.”
The new partnership will be celebrated at two upcoming events, the annual Let’s Start Gospel Brunch, April 13 at the St. Vincent de Paul Church Hall (visit https://letsstart.org/upcoming-events), and the annual CJM Recognition Dinner, April 25 at Moulin (visit https://www.cjmstlouis.org/cjmevents).