The prison ministry ReLeasT has accepted the first residents at the new women’s transition home in Nebraska City.



The home, located across from Arbor Lodge State Park on Second Avenue, was once part of the J. Sterling Morton estate and is the former clubhouse for a municipal golf course.



It has a large meeting area and separate quarters for a live-in volunteer, who serves as the “barn boss” for residents who are transitioning from jail, treatment centers or unhealthy relationships.


The prison ministry ReLeasT has accepted the first residents at the new women’s transition home in Nebraska City.

The home, located across from Arbor Lodge State Park on Second Avenue, was once part of the J. Sterling Morton estate and is the former clubhouse for a municipal golf course.

It has a large meeting area and separate quarters for a live-in volunteer, who serves as the “barn boss” for residents who are transitioning from jail, treatment centers or unhealthy relationships.

“It’s about perfect for a transition home,” said Diane Collins, co-director with her husband, Steve. “The women are finding walking in the park super therapeutic,” she said.

The Collins started ReLeasT four years ago after participating in a national prison ministry. They served as mentors for men and women going from state custody to the work release program.
As they helped people seek jobs and meet their basic needs, they realized the need for women’s housing.

“It is huge. Women have limited availability of housing compared to men,” Collins said.
The transition house board interviews applicants for residency, assessing their status spiritually, mentally and physically.

“We are not looking at the ability to pay rent, but their willingness to come in and really make a life change,” she said.

Life at the house includes counseling, time with a spiritual mentor, Alcoholics Anonymous, church, job seeking and meeting financial obligations like child support.
“They have to live like they never had before because their best thinking up to that point got them addicted or locked up,” Collins said.

There are also mandatory house meetings and activities with members of the community and a variety of churches.

Steve said a cooking class that features local women coming in to cook a meal with the residents is an example of a growth opportunity.
“It’s involvement in the lives of these ladies so that they understand they are valued regardless of their past,” he said.

Collins said the transition house does not accept sex offenders, but has raised some concerns.
“We understand that not everyone will like it, but we’re going to give these women the best we possibly can and what they do with it is up to them,” he said.

Vic and Jeri Johns purchased the house and offered it for the ministry.
There are no paid positions, but the live-in volunteer is not charged rent. Serving in that role now is Whitni Baker, who started with the prison ministry this summer.

“I really felt God calling me. It’s an excellent ministry opportunity,” she said.

She said there is a regiment of activities and household chores, but the women’s free time is also important to their transition to self-sufficiency.