The Alma Center, in Milwaukee, which launched in 2004, is an evidence-based trauma-informed alternative to prevailing punitive methods of working with domestic violence offenders. Its innovative approach begins with the recognition that domestic violence is a cycle that can be broken.
For 14 years, the agency has worked with more than 5,000 men and impacted the lives of more than 10,000 children.
Last week was a homecoming of sorts for Avery Stewart, who met his nephews for the first time. Stewart had just finished serving a three-year sentence at Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution a week earlier and was starting a new life back in Milwaukee.
Besides hanging out with his nephews, ages two and five, Stewart also attended a welcome home ceremony at the Alma Center, 2821 Vel R. Phillips Ave. as part of his participation in the Alma Brothers Smart Reentry program.
The event felt like a graduation party: plates of fried chicken and roasted potatoes, djembe drums, thoughtful gifts, encouraging words, hugs, handshakes and well wishes.
And in a sense, it was. Those gathered were honoring the beginning of a new chapter, and four men returning from prison to Milwaukee were the guests of honor.
“We’re having a party to celebrate these men in a way they haven’t been celebrated in a long time,” said Julie Landes, director of operations at the Alma Center.