St. Francis Center Employment Services tracks measures of success by looking at job placement, recidivism and career advancement information for each of our clients over the long term. By comparing these numbers to regional and national statistics, we see the enormous impact our services have on the wellbeing and vitality of our community. It is in the individual stories shared by the people we serve where we find the greatest joy.
Strength in Numbers
Last year, we provided weekly life skills, Intro to Construction training and other services for 798 inmates at County Jail, and conducted monthly intensive 3-day 14-hour employment skills training for 313 recently released former offenders.
Three studies of intensive service programs (Stop the Revolving Door, Denver Metro Prisoner Re-entry Initiative, and the Motherhood Program) revealed significant success. Among the outcomes were the following findings: Obtained employment: 80%, 93% and 90% respectively; Average wages: $11.75, $9.50, $9.00; Attended mentoring/support group and received transportation support: 96%, 90% and 90%; Received hard-skills/technical training: 86%, 76% and 76%, and Recidivism rate: 1.8%, 7.1% and 4.7%, compared with up to 40% recidivism rates according to the general statistics. (Note: Recidivism rate is only a point in time year-end study for grant reporting and may not reflect 1 year data from time of each individual’s enrollment).
Additionally, we helped thousands of drop-in clients through access to resources including technical school and college, resume preparation and printing, job search assistance, use of the computer lab and access to resources with help from the front office staff.
In 2009 we undertook an evaluation with Community Corrections Phase-1 to examine outcomes for 137 ex-offenders who had completed our Employment Search Program. Receiving just the ESP, basic drop-in services, 5 weeks of bus tokens and no other financial support, 16% of these participants were returned to custody, less than half of the rates in the general population!
Our programming has certainly been effective!
Opportunities for Growth
In 2011, we look at the numbers of participants receiving services, support and resources, and we are amazed at the staggering increase in numbers served. In 2010, we increased our numbers by over 100% to 3,798 served directly through Program or Drop-in services, with an additional 1,529 participants served through outreach, pre-release, post-program follow-up and ongoing case management. This totals to 5,327 overall served in 2010!
Jeffrey has been a client of Turnabout, Inc., since June, 2008. His history is quite a remarkable one. He is the oldest of 3 children raised in New Orleans, LA. At an early age they were abandoned by their mother due to her drug addiction. As their mother drifted in and out of the picture, Jeffrey took care of his younger siblings, moving from one abandoned building to another. Eventually, all of the children were placed in the care of social services and separated. When their mother regained custody, she moved them from New Orleans to Denver. Again, his mother's drug addiction took control of their lives. The children became wards of the state and were separated; only this time it was permanent. Jeffrey learned to do what he had to do to survive.
Upon meeting Jeff, one is struck by the warmth of his smile. Upon sight, it is hard to reconcile such an engaging and kind young man with such an incredibly painful story. When he began insulation installation training, he called aside a Turnabout staff member to inquire what a crawl space was. He had never lived in a house and was embarrassed by his lack of knowledge. He came to our monthly mentoring, as usual, after getting a job. He proudly wore a new shirt and pair of pants, the first in many years. He sought out a staff member and with tear-filled eyes he thanked Turnabout for making it possible for him to buy the tools he needed for the job. Jeff has gone through every program and training available through Turnabout. After receiving Asbestos Abatement training through Turnabout, he began working at a great job in this field. He is so grateful to this program that he volunteered many Saturdays using his newly earned skills to help in the remodel of our facility.
Meanwhile, he attended night classes at Red Rocks Community College two evenings a week, an opportunity he decided to pursue after learning about their College Gateway program through Turnabout. In 2009, he applied for and was offered a position working for the college. Now, in addition to attending the school, Jeffrey also works for the Gateway Program helping other people to make positive changes in their lives.
“I’ve lived a life of abuse, family separation, drugs, jail, homelessness and prison. A cycle started by choices that I had no control over, yet continued when I did gain what I thought, was control of my life.
"Every time one of these choices landed me behind a locked cell door, I would look at the clouds through my window and wonder, what am I doing here? I knew that this isn’t what life is supposed to be. I also knew that the answer to my question wouldn’t be found in here. The only thing I would find in here was a better way to do the wrong thing and those who depended on me to do just that. As a corrections officer once said to me and the group I came in with, 'Come back any time you like, we’ll leave the light on for you'.
"I wanted to change. Don’t know how, what to do or where to go, but I will change. And when I last looked down from that window, I was standing in front of a office door with Gateway Program posted on the other side of the glass. And to this day, what I love about Cathy, Angelina and the program as a whole is that I wasn’t greeted as what I had done. I was greeted as what I could become.
"Due to that guidance and support, I now have direction and a goal that I aim to achieve. I will first get an associate’s as a computer tech. Afterwards I will get my associate’s in general studies. With that in hand I’ll transfer to a four year college and get my bachelors in computer information systems.
"I am also doing work-study for the Gateway Program. This gives me the opportunity to give back something that was given to me. Hope, opportunity and a chance to succeed.
"There are plenty of correction officers willing to leave the light on for you. I’d rather be part of the group that shows you how to turn the light on within yourself.”
In addition to giving back at the College itself, Jeffrey also comes back to Turnabout to attend our monthly mentoring events, providing outreach, support and assistance for new and continuing Turnabout participants interested in enrolling in college. Jeffrey is a true example of how determination and hard work can pay off. Jeffrey continues to pay this success forward and helps so many others who have also made that commitment to turning their lives around.
Gerald entered the program in December 2008 expressing a great desire to enter into the renewable energy field. At the time there was nothing available. Gerald worked at a law firm at night filing documents and during the day he went door-to-door with a rake and a leaf blower Turnabout had purchased for him. When the opportunity presented itself to work at Green Power Company, out of Ft. Collins, Gerald jumped at the chance even if this meant getting off his graveyard shift job at 7am and driving straight to Ft. Collins to put in another 8 hour shift. His sole motivation is to take care of his family.
Gerald enhanced his knowledge of PV solar installation by attending Thames Solar Electric’s, Basic and Advanced Solar PV workshops. He then came in regularly to update his flyer and print out business cards for any weekend odd jobs he could find to supplement his income and help get his family ahead. Additionally, he was enrolled in Turnabout's insulation training and rearranged all of his handyman jobs to work around the class schedule. He so impressed the training contractor's staff that they hired him as a field technician. His contract ended and Gerald was quickly hired on at the successor contractor, a weatherization and energy efficiency company. He has inspired everyone with his energy and his persistence to move forward despite personal challenges and the current economic climate.
Cody was just one of several thousand people who found their way to Turnabout Inc. in 2009. After six and a half years of incarceration, his release on May 13th of that year marked the beginning a journey Cody only knew would be "real different". At age 30 he wanted this to be the last time he would have to start over. He went through the normal orientation process and was later accepted to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment's Stop The Revolving Door Program (SRD), one of Turnabout's grant funded programs.
Programs Director, Kris Dafni, remembers Cody as being "quite the challenge". He was job searching, armed with a resume developed in Turnabout's Employment Search Program (ESP) and over an inch of other papers documenting everything he'd ever done, been accused of, and every reference he could muster stating he'd be a good bet to make it. Too much information! For four months Cody struggled with the disappointment and frustration most ex-offenders experience associated with finding employment. Like far too many others he was also assaulted with the temptation to slip back into old habits/activities. "I thought of making a few runs (i.e. drug transport runs) just to make some quick money, just to get on my feet." He came into Turnabout and chose to confide his intentions to Kris. Her response was succinct and "classic Kris". She listened intently and responded "I thought you were finished with prison, but, since you obviously aren't, go ahead with that plan." That matter of fact response was the thing Cody needed to assess the risk-reward probabilities and make the decision to just refocus and continue striving forward positively. "I think the most important thing is to have is a support system in place...next comes determination and drive," Cody says.
Cody's commitment to 'right conduct' was rewarded first with a job at Dave and Buster's, a local family restaurant chain. Soon after he was offered, and accepted a position with Altus Traffic Control as a flagger (having been certified at Turnabout, a CDOT certified Flagger Training site). Juggling two jobs, and doing extremely well at both, he continued to meet all of his halfway house requirements, advance through the phases/levels and eventually was at the point where he was approved to find his own place. Turnabout was able to refer Cody to one of our felon-friendly housing resources. Not only did Cody obtain housing through this resource but later became a Property Manager. For over a year and a half he has maintained these work relationships. He currently manages several properties for this management company and is an Operations Supervisor at a national traffic control company. He is in the unique situation of being able to provide both housing and jobs for a re-entry population most difficult to accommodate in these areas. "Giving back feels good" he added "I don't see myself as up on a high horse. I recognize the challenges others face because I remember facing the same ones".
Successfully completing his tenure on parole, Cody was successfully discharged in December 2010 and just celebrated two years free on May 13th. "When I planned everything out(while in prison) I didn't plan on it being so hard. Now that my life has developed as it has...I guess, I didn't plan on it being this easy" he reflected humbly. "I know I couldn't have done it without Turnabout." Success of this magnitude has varying payoffs for clients and staff as well. However, this is just one story of many that keeps Turnabout staffers motivated to do this work. Thoughts of Cody just keep us smiling as we do.