RMO Intensive Client Progress - B's Story

on Wednesday - December 31, 2014.

B. is a 21 year-old female, who had been doing drugs since she was 16, had multiple retail thefts on her record and several incarcerations. She was homeless, had a learning disability, anger issues, little work experience (only in low-paying food service jobs) and no family support. (her parents live on the West Coast)

She started in the RMO Intensive program in December, 2013. Thanks to collaborative efforts between RMO partner agencies like Tabor Services, PA CareerLink of Lancaster County, Wellness Counseling Associates and Lancaster County Adult Probation and Parole, B. was able to get the resources and services she needed to quickly stablize and start moving forward. Through the RMO, B was placed in transitional housing, and her assigned RMO case manager helped her make a list of goals she wanted to achieve. The client really knuckled down and started working hard toward those goals.

Within her first month in the program, she was matched with a mentor, completed the initial set of required workshops in the Reentry Employment Program at CareerLink, completed an anger management class and was attending D&A counseling regularly. She earned her Ready2Work certification at CareerLink, and soon afterward, she was placed into not just one, but TWO jobs.

She started saving money toward moving into permanent housing, and met her requirements with probation and parole - staying clean, passing drug tests, and attending all of her appointments.

After less than 6 months in the RMO Intensive program, she moved into permanent housing, and was compliant with all probation/parole requirements.

She was in touch with her RMO case manager as well as her PO recently to report that she is continuing to do well, has a good job, and plans to start classes at YTI in January.

GED opens doors for proud graduate

Written by Melanie G. Snyder on Thursday - June 19, 2014.

GED opens doors for proud graduate

On Thursday evening, June 12, Zena Gunsallus did something that, 10 years ago, she didn't know if she'd ever be able to do. She walked across the stage at McCaskey East High School wearing cap and gown to accept her GED diploma. Five days later, on Tuesday, June 17, she had another graduation: from Lancaster County Drug Court.

"I dropped out of school when I was 17 in my senior year of high school because I was pregnant," Gunsallus explains. "I didn't have a great life." She struggled with addiction, and wound up in and out of Lancaster County Prison. She spent four years trying to complete Drug Court.

"I made plenty of mistakes," she admits. "Finally, I realized I needed to change my life," she says. 

"I had always known I wanted to go to beauty school, but just never had the motivation." She knew that to get into beauty school, she'd have to have her GED. She started taking GED classes offered by IU13 at Lancaster County Prison through a US Department of Education grant program called PRSCEO - Promoting Reentry Success through Continuity of Educational Opportunities. The PRSCEO program was initiated at the federal level because "a growing body of evidence shows that providing offenders with education and training increases their employment opportunities, addresses their cognitive deficits, and helps reduce their likelihood of recidivating."*

Lancaster County is one of only three sites in the nation that has received a grant from the US Department of Education to implement this model. Lancaster County's IU13 Adult Education and the Lancaster County Reentry Management Organization (RMO) partnered to submit the grant application and have been working closely together since July 1, 2013 to implement the program here. The program includes GED Preparation classes and Adult Basic Education classes at both Lancaster County Prison and PA CareerLink of Lancaster County. Participants also receive assistance with career and education planning and have the opportunity to participate in supportive reentry services through the RMO as well as reentry employment services like the Ready2Work program and occupational skills trainings at the CareerLink. Trish Link, Assistant Adult Education Director for IU-13, manages the project. 

The GED classes for women at LCP are taught by IU13 instructor Mary Edith Leichliter.

"If it wasn't for Mary Edith at the prison, I would not have pursued this at that time," Gunsallus says.

Several weeks into her GED classes at the prison . . .

A Portrait of Reentry: K's Story

on Friday - April 19, 2013.

In 2008, K. was released from prison, having had a history of opiate addiction. He lived at the Transitional Living Center in Lancaster for several months, and completed several employment training programs at PA CareerLink of Lancaster County, including Ready2Work, welding and blueprint training. His welding instructor was so impressed with K. that he hired K. as a part time student teacher, then helped K. get a full-time job with a local manufacturing company. But in June, 2012, K. was laid off from his job, and with no income to pay his rent, he was evicted from his apartment. Things spiraled downward from there.

By August, K. was living in a tent under a bridge, unemployed, with no drivers license, and struggling with his opiate addiction . . .

A Portrait of Reentry: Christopher's Story

on Wednesday - April 10, 2013.

Christopher is 42 years old and has been in active addiction to alcohol and cocaine for over 25 years. He has been incarcerated multiple times, most recently for 11 months for DUI at Lancaster County Prison.

As he neared the end of his sentence at the Lancaster County Prison in early 2012, he successfully completed the 12 hour RMO Reentry life skills course, which covers topics including managing money, housing, transportation, getting along with yourself and others, parenting and family responsibilities, community and legal resources, probation and parole requirements, addiction, relapse and wellness, healthcare and mental health. Through that course, Christopher realized he needed to make significant changes in how he was living his life. "I can't keep doing this," he said, referring to the cycles of addiction and incarceration where he'd been trapped for so long . . .

RMO Success Story: Living Proof

Written by Melanie G. Snyder on Thursday - June 28, 2012.

At 6'2", with broad shoulders, and a deep bass voice (think "James Earl Jones" and go down a notch), Zach might not look like a man who'd recite poetry. But reciting, reading, and writing poetry are some of his favorite activities.

He recites a line from Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet:

"The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain."

Zach should know. He's experienced enough sorrow in his 50 years for several lifetimes. "I was physically abused as a child. I got to a point where I got used to it. I didn't cry any more, but it developed a hatred and anger within me," Zach says. When Zach was eleven, his mother died, and he was moved, first to Philadelphia then to New York, where he lived among drug dealers and gangs. Zach was shot four times, but survived each shooting. "It was a violent upbringing," he says. Eventually, it was a path that led to prison over two decades ago, when Zach was a young man . . .