On March 16, 2018 PO III Jill Bunting and the Kodiak Area Mentor Program (KAMP) teamed up to hold the Second Annual Reentry Recognition Kodiak event at the Roy H. Madsen Justice Center in Kodiak, Alaska.
This year’s program started with Department of Corrections recognizing Threshold Recycling for their partnership in employing one of the speakers as an intern at their facility. Threshold Recycling has been a partner with Department of Corrections for decades as a community work service location. Last year Threshold took their involvement to the next level by employing one of the speakers as an intern and subsequently as a paid employee. Through this work experience, the individual was able to obtain full time employment at a local business. This individual had not previously worked for many years and at the time she started probation, she was not confident in her ability to obtain and maintain employment at all. Through the partnership with Threshold, this individual has returned to the workforce which has enriched her life financially and socially.
Thank you, Threshold Recycling!
Two local employers were also recognized for their partnership in reentry efforts. However, they humbly wished to remain anonymous, expressing the desire to continue to assist this population with no recognition.
Probation Officer Bunting presented their certificates of appreciation to Teresa Slaughter, Executive Director of Kodiak Area Mentor Program, to present to the employers privately.
Before the speakers took the podium, Probation Officer Bunting recognized Teresa Slaughter for her service as Kodiak Area Mentor Program founder and Executive Director. Teresa is leaving the island and her position will be taken over by Jonathan Strong.
Teresa, in partnership with Probation Officer Bunting, founded the Kodiak Area Mentor Program in May 2014. Since then the program has grown into a nonprofit networking organization that assists people through faith-based mentoring relationships in the Kodiak Jail, in the community, and through letter writing to individuals in prison.
Probation Officer Bunting began the next part of the program with an explanation of how this event to recognize reentry successes began in 2017 and how speakers are selected. The genesis of this event arose from a desire to recognize some individuals who, through their hard work and determination, have experienced successful completion of probation and far beyond that goal. This recognition has also proved valuable to the Court, law enforcement, the legal community and others who have interacted with these individuals and been a part of their journey. The qualifications to be a speaker at this event were: successful completion of probation, no criminal matters pending, employment, housing, transportation and living a changed life. Probation Officer Bunting emphasized that although public speaking is not comfortable for everyone, each of the speakers has an important message for the community and this is a skill that can help them communicate this. She explained that the speakers were invited months ago and coached by Kodiak Area Mentor Program mentors and other individuals to polish their speeches and make the most of the short time they had at the podium.
Four speakers told moving stories of how they worked to achieve sobriety and how their experiences have impacted their friends and families. Each speaker was given three minutes to address Judge Steve Cole and the members of the audience that packed the courtroom. They told their stories of recovery and victory over substance abuse. They recognized the people in their lives that helped them in their journey. Each speaker was presented with a Certificate of Achievement by Probation Officer Bunting.
Two of the four speakers have been participants in the Tenant-Based Rental Assistance Program (TBRA) while on probation supervision and through their success in that program they were able to qualify to receive other program assistance and have their own apartments.
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. Afterward, a reception was held with cookies, coffee and conversation where members of the audience could talk with the speakers individually and learn more about them.