Tracker Pixel for Entry

​New nonprofit F5 Project helps rebuild felons’ lives

by Tessa Torgeson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | News | February 22nd, 2017

Four years ago, Adam Martin lost everything. He was homeless, had no car, no license, no job, no phone, and lost custody of his children. With five felonies on his criminal record and an eviction, prospects for getting a job and apartment were grim. The only positive was that he had two weeks of sobriety under his belt, a landmark for someone who struggled with addiction for fifteen years.

Martin was planning on getting drunk, but had an epiphany instead. “I decided that I should put as much effort into my new life as I had put into drinking,” Martin said. He felt two quarters rattling in his pocket on his walk to The Bowler- just enough to make a pay phone call to a friend in recovery instead of towards another bar tab.

He needed a shower, a place to live, a car, his license. But most of all, he needed a second chance. He landed an interview for sales for an Information Technology company. Although they typically did not hire felons, they took a chance on Martin because he was honest about his criminal background, determined, articulate, and had a reference from another employee within the company.

Martin said the sales job “radically changed” his life, but after speaking at a United Way event he decided that his true passion was helping other felons get a second chance. He started The F5 Project, which just received its nonprofit status in January.

The project is called F5 because that is a command key that refreshes a page and also the number of felonies that he had when he started the project. The mission of F5 is “to rebuild lives and communities through servicing people with criminal backgrounds.”

One of the goals of F5 is to address high incarceration and recidivism rates. There are 300 inmates in Cass County Jail and 40 percent will return within a year. According to The Bureau of Justice Statistics, 68% of US offenders will be rearrested within three years.

The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world, breaking down to 1 in 31 citizens being incarcerated. Yet hiding beneath every grim statistic is a story of redemption such as Martin’s. He shares his story at weekly meetings at the Cass County Jail, brings guest speakers about employment skills, leadership skills, fatherhood, community resources, and housing. Meeting attendance has skyrocketed from about seven inmates to sixty.

“We have been in your shoes” is the reoccurring theme every week. “What better people to try and help guys in jail,” says Martin, “than the guys who are successful today and were once in jail themselves? Inmates listen because they know we want to help them. If you walk into jail and don’t have a felony, walk in there and tell them how to live their life they won’t respect you. I make sure upfront they know that I have five felonies, that I’m not affiliated with any specific institution, not religious, not Probation Officers.”

Currently The F5 Project only serves men, but they plan on expanding to the women’s side with female volunteers.

They meet with the inmates who reach out for help in jail, planning for successful transitions to the community. Martin and volunteers connect them with what they need to be successful, from transportation to cellphones to navigating resources.

One of Martin’s priorities is helping inmates find employment because it helps with self-reliance, developing life skills, and reducing recidivism.

F5 is already seeing successes and inspiring inmates. A Cass County federal detainee facing 14 to 18 years named “C” wrote a letter to F5 because he was inspired by their mission. “Some of us can say we are where we are because life gave us bad breaks, no way out, bad upbringing, full of abuse, etcetera. I can say for myself it was a mix of all of the above. But more importantly it was because of my own bad choices. You know how much one poor choice can change the course of one’s life. I want to help others before they make the mistakes I did, so they don’t have to wonder how they are going to make something of themselves when they are 60 years old.”

This inmate has a reason to feel hopeful. Martin discussed Govenor Burgum’s plans to reform the justice system. Burgum is meeting with key justice organizations and nonprofits, along with discussing reform in a recent Fargo Forum article. Martin believes that he will make radical changes that will emphasis rehabilitation over incarceration, benefit the homeless community, and address the opiate epidemic.

Along with ND justice reform, Martin envisions developing an F5 Project housing program where they transition inmates from jail to the community by teaching a skills curriculum and recommending them to area employers or landlords.

In addition to helping individuals, Martin is building positive relationships with employers, landlords, and area nonprofits to encourage people to give folks second chances and reduce the stigma of felony. “Felons are some of the most motivated people I’ve seen, they just need a chance…How long do they have to pay the price after completing probation or parole?”

If you believe that one’s past doesn’t determine one’s future, support F5 Project by attending their charity ride at the CycleBar.


Project Charity Ride

Saturday, March 4, 2pm

CycleBar, 3163 Bluestem Dr, West Fargo


Recently in:

VALLEY CITY – The White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan are targeting North Dakota university newspapers in a cry for help: a book banning.So far, Valley City State University’s ‘Viking News,’ and NDSU’s ‘The Spectrum,’…

This is some of the basic computer technical information you have to know to be comfortable around Windows computers.Long ago and far away, someone thought up some very basic definitions of computer files -- you know, the things…

Thursday, October 19, 5:30-7:30Revland Gallery, 6 Broadway FargoIn celebration of her 80th birthday and 35 years of public service in the ND House and Senate, as well as on the Fargo School Board. Wine, beers, hors d’oeuvres, and…


That’s all folk

by Sabrina Hornung

Our opinion: Folk art as a connector and a hard goodbyeLast week my friend Molly Mclain and I started a rosemaling apprenticeship through the Folkart and traditional Art Apprenticeship program, through the NDCA under master painter…

I’m a white son-of-a-bitch who will always take a knee for M/Sgt McNairIn 1938 I entered First Grade in District 54 in Morrison County, Minnesota, a little white country school with a total of 23 students in eight grades and two…

The moment of truth has arrived. After seven weeks of sampling and judging some of the finest libations in the area the results for this year’s Cocktail Showdown have arrived. Christopher Larson, Raul Gomez and Sabrina Hornung…

The Fergus Falls State Hospital (FFSH) ran a glorified commune. They were committed to sustainability long before the hippies of yore and the farm-to-table free-range folks of today. The hospital was self-sustaining, as both…


​Maximum Carnage

by Jacinta Macheel Zens

Carnage the Executioner on beatboxing, sampling and loopingHPR: How long have you been beatboxing?Carnage: I studied boxing when I was somewhere between eight and ten years old. There was this one group back in the days called the…

Over the last several weeks, the Concordia Orchestra has been preparing for the challengeSince Mary Shelley first published her Gothic horror novel in 1818, “Frankenstein” has been read by millions. The classic tale of an…

The Plains Art Museum, the Rourke Art Museum, NDSU, the Red Door Art Gallery (Wahpeton, ND) and the Fargo Theatre have teamed up to bring Fritz Fest, a three-day event, celebrating the life and work of influential 2oth century…

The F-M Community Theatre summarized the story: “Tony Wendice has married his wife, Margot, for her money and now plans to murder her for the same reason. He arranges the perfect murder. He blackmails a scoundrel he used to know…


​Talking to strangers

by Sabrina Hornung

“I don’t have a tour, like, on the back of a sweatshirt,” comedian Paula Poundstone says. “I go out every weekend. This weekend I went out Friday, Saturday and Monday. Mostly it’s Friday/Saturday or Thursday through…

Dipping into your cellar to pull out a special bottle is something that used to be fairly exclusive, wine connoisseurs only. These days, cellaring is gaining more and more traction among hardcore craft beer consumers, who continue…

Essential oils. They are all the buzz lately. It seems everyone has heard of them or is purchasing them. Some people know how to use them; others are just interested in the wonder of their complex scents.Essential oils are as…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

Last Word

Aunt Deloris

by Jim Fuglie

Deloris Boehmer is my last living aunt. She’s the only remaining member of my parents’ generation in our family. She’s 88, and lives in Edmore, North Dakota, about 40 miles northeast of Devils Lake. She’s got a pretty nice…