WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Helping former inmates learn life skills and get back on their feet is the mission of a new program in Lycoming County.

Every Monday, the New Covenant United Church in Williamsport is filled with sweet treats by the Rise Up Village Bakery, which helps rise up people after they are released from prison by giving them a skill.

“We do this with the purpose in mind that taking people out of incarceration or on parole and bringing them into our training program so they can learn some baking skills. We also mentor them,” said Marty McCormick, co-program manager of the Rise Up Village Bakery.

The training period varies and they maintain three to four trainees at a time.

Marty McCormick volunteered at a prison for years and saw the need to support those re-entering society.

“I went online and discovered that the food service industry, especially bakeries and restaurants, are the largest employers of people with a criminal record. That’s what got us started in this particular type of work,” explained Marty McCormick.

Through the United Churches of Lycoming County, Marty and his wife Wendy worked to start the program.

“It’s been more than we imagined that it could be. We’ve had just a terrific response and awesome, fantastic trainees and volunteers,” said Wendy McCormick, co-program manager of the Rise Up Village Bakery.

The cookies, muffins, bread, and rolls are sold locally and a portion of them are donated.

“We make donations to some of the organizations that supply special programs or meals for the people in the community,” stated Wendy.

Marty believes programs like this are necessary to help former inmates rejoin the community.

“I can see the enthusiasm when they’re working in there. They’re just having a good time, they’re enjoying it. For us, it’s just glad to see those people have a new life. A second chance or third chance, whatever it takes,” described Marty.

The Rise Up Village Bakery has grown so much, they’re planning to expand but they need more volunteers.

To learn more about how to support their mission, visit The Rise Up Village Bakery’s website.