Re-entry Support Strong in Ward 5

January 13, 2016

Re-entry support in Ward 5 was in full effect during the Fifth District Community Justice Advisory Network (CJAN) meeting tonight at the Fifth District Police Station. The setting was rendered very \”intimate\” due to recent construction of the meeting room which had been halved since the ANC5D meeting the night before. The room\’s reconstructiuon couldn\’t dampen the enthusiasm of the large crowd or spirited speakers. Trina Stewart (CSOSA Intergovernmental and Community Affairs Specialist) kicked the meeting off informing the crowd that their role as \”collateral contacts\” was essential to the re-entry process. She then turned it over to Quennel DeVerteuil and Garris Ference (Community Supervisor Officers) to inform the audience what \”collateral contacts\” are.  Basically, collateral contacts refers to anyone who comes in contact with supervised offenders. This could be teachers, counselors, or anyone that plays a positive role to prevent recidivism. They stressed the importance that anyone playing a positive role can provide. This was just the beginning as Ms Stewart handed the meeting of to Christine Keels (Executive Assistant – Community Justice Programs).

Ms. Keels represents the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency\’s (CSOSA) Faith-Based  Initiative. The Faith Based Initiative allows people from the community to help those on the reentry path to find resources to restore their image. She challenged those on the reentry path wanting to find ways to give back to the community to offer whatever skills they can. I found her message compelling, as the faith based presenter, as it employed parts of Romans 12: 6-7 which reads – Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;. She asked us as collateral contacts to help them \”find a new way\” by offering our skills and talents to those on the re-entry path.

William Brown (Outreach Contractor) for So Others Might Eat (SOME) was the next presenter. He illuminated a number of services offered by SOME including, housing, dental and medical services, employment training, legal assistance, addiction treatment, counseling, a food pantry, help getting a valid ID, and a new program for mothers with addiction in jeopardy of losing their children to child services, among other services. But it was his announcement that he was 11 years drug free through the help of the SOME program that drew a round of applause and affirmation of the SOME offerings.

As if it couldn\’t get any better, Ms. Aida Garoute (Community Outreach Specialist  Child Services Division) put more than a period (you had to be there to get this one) as she spoke on child support services. By the end of her presentation it was clear that her \”meet the public where it is\” message was more than talk as she stressed that \”the heels come off and the boots come on\” to hand out information at bus stops, stores, and anywhere the need presents itself. She\’s created over 180 partnerships with various resources to help her clients. She reminded the audience that even though the child support division is not just enforcement – they still perform the administration functions required to collect child support…period.

The evening of presentations concluded with Moses J. Smith (Community Liaison Specialist – DC Department of Human Services) whose short presentation highlighted that all of the prior presenter\’s programs are supported by DHS. He echoed Ms Garoute\’s message that he meets the public where it is.

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