By Veronica Maciag

Where would we be without our hobbies? Well, Cleveland has been trying to ask just that of the members of its community, more specifically, the population of Clevelanders that identify as ex-convicts or as incarcerated youth with the Cleveland Juvenile Detention Center.

John Carroll University’s branch of Writers in Residence (WiR), an organization dedicated to teaching creative writing to incarcerated youth, is one such effort. WiR has gained popularity in the area due to its collaboration with Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) earlier this month. Working to not only provide private opportunities to write, WiR also showcased some of the youth’s current pieces to students, faculty, and other interested parties at CWRU. Ever since, WiR has only continued to grow in popularity, spreading to the larger Cleveland area, and even into other regions of Ohio. Allowing the youth to foster their creativity, create healthy coping mechanisms, and get their names out as writers has set up a unique path for the re-entry period.

On the other end of the spectrum, Edwin’s Restaurant, located in Shaker Square, has been recently cited for providing a “second chance at life” to ex-convicts. Brandon Chrostowski, the restaurant’s founder, made it his mission to change how re-entry functions in the United States. Now, Edwin’s Restaurant has done just this by offering work experience in restaurant management and cooking. By helping these Clevelanders explore a possible career venture, or at least a side hobby, Chrostowski has provided the perfect steppingstone for launching this new and improved portion of the ex-convicts’ lives.