Former Inmates Striving Together, Inc., (F.I.S.T.) needs your help to retain its strategically located headquarters office in Waukegan.

Financial pressure is threatening one of F.I.S.T.’s greatest strategic assets: Its location across West Water Street in Waukegan – literally in the shadow of the Lake County Jail, where over 12,000 inmates are processed annually.

Over the last 18 months, rather than just being “turned out,” ex-prisoners have had the people and the resources of F.I.S.T. there to provide the support and help they need. They are met at the door and supported by their peers, directed to needed service providers and even transported to their homes. Even the Corrections Officers have become accustomed to directing newly released inmates “across the street” where they can get help on their way toward success in life in free society.

Sadly, however, F.I.S.T. President and Founder Joe Schmitt has announced that unless financial help is received by Sept. 15, they will have to vacate their office no later than Oct. 1. Should that happen, he says, “our mission will be greatly impacted negatively,” as this resource will have to be moved to a distant Genesee Street location.

The Illinois Institute has worked closely with Joe Schmitt and F.I.S.T., and found it an exceptionally fine organization that is accomplishing much to help and support ex-prisoners. We urge you to join us as we “give back” in the form of financial support so that they can retain this important resource.

For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution, contact Joe Schmitt, President/Founder, F.I.S.T., Inc., 213 W. Water Street, Waukegan, IL, 60085 or visit their website at