(Left to right: Will Davis, Shawn Olsen, Erica Delacruz Sanchez, Joan Sison, and Alison Thomas. Judge Steve Cole.)
On June 2, 2017, PO III Jill Bunting and the Kodiak Area Mentor Program (KAMP) held the first Re-Entry Recognition Kodiak event.
Invitations were sent out to individuals in the legal community, employer community, and housing community. Due to security requirements — as the courthouse is closed Friday afternoons — this event was limited to invitation-only participants.
The qualifications to be a speaker at this event were: successful completion of probation, employment, housing, transportation, and living a changed life.
Five speakers were on the agenda. Each speaker was given three minutes to address Judge Steve Cole and the members of the audience. They told their stories of recovery and victory over substance abuse. They recognized the people in their lives that helped them in their journey.
Three of the five speakers were participants in the Tenant-Based Rental Assistance Program (TBRA), and some went on to own their own homes. Robenett Sagalkin, Asset Supervisor for the Kodiak Office of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, was in the audience to hear the stories of these individuals. She had this to say, “Today, I was invited to attend one of the most heartwarming recognitions/celebrations that I have ever been a part of in my years of working with AHFC!! Five local individuals, all who have served time on felony probation, were allowed to share their success stories and to acknowledge the programs and people in our community who have led to their success. Each of the five …started nervously at the podium in Courtroom A, where they had previously been sentenced for their crimes at one time, by thanking Superior Court Judge Steve Cole for his hand in their successes. Each of them were participants of the Department of Corrections Kodiak Probation and Parole; each them are currently participating members in Kodiak Area Mentor Program, which is a 3-year-old nonprofit that is making huge strides in the success rate for those re-entering society; and three of the 5 are former TBRA/PAR-SW successful participants!! They openly shared their appreciation for the help, stability and support that our program gave them!! Three out of the five, (which includes two TRBA) have moved on to permanent employment and HOME OWNERSHIP!!!!!!! I must say, that their personal stories and accomplishments moved many to tears…..includ(ing) Judge Cole!”
Major Dave Davis of the Kodiak Salvation Army attended and sent the following email after the event, “WOW! How impressive is your Mentoring program in making a difference for both the recipients and those who lend support. An excellent bridge that was sorely needed when I was here before and to see the many aspects, like a spider web of love catching those who might otherwise fall through the cracks. SALUTE!”
After the speeches were presented the floor was turned over to Judge Cole, who spoke to the audience and speakers about how moved he was at hearing each individual’s presentation. Judge Cole acknowledged the agencies represented in the room (Kodiak Area Mentor Program, District Attorney’s Office, Pubic Defender Agency, Threshold Recycling, Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, Borough Mayor and employer Dan Rohrer, Kodiak Police Department, Alaska State Troopers, and others) for working together to address the needs of the community of Kodiak and the individuals with whom they interact. Afterward, a reception was held with a celebration cake, coffee, and conversation.
This event was deemed a success and we look forward to presenting more success stories to the court and the community in the future.