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Transcript of JoCo on the Go podcast 03/09/2020

Theresa Freed [00:00:00] On this week's episode hear from the Johnson County Corrections Department, We'll talk to those who help individuals avoid recidivism and build healthy families and successful careers. You'll also hear directly from those who have benefited from Johnson County community corrections programs. Find out how they're doing and what keeps them on a productive path. Finally, learn why a strong support system is key to overcoming a problematic past to build a brighter future.

Announcer [00:00:25] Whether you live in or just love Johnson County, Kansas, JoCo on the Go has everything Johnson County. Here's what's happening and what's coming up in the community you call home.

Theresa Freed [00:00:38] Thanks for joining us for JoCo on the Go. I'm your host, Theresa Freed, a Johnson, County resident and employee of Johnson County Government. Everybody loves a feel good story and this episode today is full of them. We're talking about the great things happening with our corrections department, how programs and services are changing the lives of residents in our community, certainly helping those who are leaving incarceration, but also improving our county in general in ways that can have a multi-generational impact. We're talking about programs that help individuals gain employment, fill workforce needs, and also help people improve outcomes for their family. To kick off this discussion. We welcome Rodney Weber, who's a senior case manager at the Department of Corrections. We also have with us Erin Moeder, who serves the Johnson County D.O.C. as the volunteers and programs coordinator. And then finally, we have Lee Jost, who is with Cultivate, a partner with the College of Trades program. We'll talk about that in just a little bit. Thank you all for being here. Unless you've had contact with the justice system, you may not be familiar with community corrections. So tell us what that is.

Rodney Weber [00:01:42] OK. Community corrections is just another form of term of probation for our residents in Johnson County. Johnson County has a unique corrections, as we have a residential center, which is one of two in the state of Kansas. It was built back in 1987. It houses up to around 342 individuals on probation work release, state work release, which we also have a six month in-patient drug treatment program. We work with them about 90-120 days, get them back into the community, by getting them a job and back in mental health, substance abuse, housing, and kind of get them started on the right foot.

Theresa Freed [00:02:22] All right. Now, I had the privilege. I think it was last year, of actually getting a tour of that facility. And you know something most people don't get to to take a look at. Can you kind of describe what a typical day is like for the residents there? Because it is a little bit different than you would think of the correctional system.

Rodney Weber [00:02:37] It is in one thing to point out, it's an in-custody facility. They're allowed to sign out and go to work. They do earn passes to go on at home. So on a typical day, somebody wakes up at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning, get ready for their day of work. We've obviously breakfast. Get them out on our transportation. We take them to work and then we pick them up at the end of their day and bring them back at that time. They'll go through classes, through substance abuse, mental health, cognitive classes or educational classes, as well as the College of Trades program.

Theresa Freed [00:03:09] OK. And kind of taking this holistic approach. This feels like something fairly new. We think about people just serving their time, doing their punishment and then reintegrating back into society. So how is this approach different?

Rodney Weber [00:03:22] This gives them that opportunity to kind of set aside the stressors of life and work on their on themselves, gives them time to kind of reflect on what they need to do to be a better citizen in their community. It's it's just in time that they can reflect and also gain knowledge on new trade skill or education or get a better job for them and their family and also just improve their stance on the outside.

Theresa Freed [00:03:49] Okay. And so what are some of this specific supports that we have available through community corrections and what are those programs?

Erin Moeder [00:03:56] And we have a lot of different programs that we're able to offer our clients. We are very fortunate to live in a community that has so many people willing to help our clients. We have about 250 volunteers for the entire department, but two of our main programs are the College of Trades program in that we, the client can pick a track that they want to go through, learn a trade and go through a professional development class while also earning the trade that they want to do to help with their employment. And then we also have the Mentoring to Excel program, where we match clients individually with a mentor who is going to hopefully see them out of the facility, into the community and ultimately off of probation.

Theresa Freed [00:04:36] Okay. And then one of those specific programs, Lee, can you talk a little bit about your role and what that program is?

Lee Jost [00:04:43] Sure. Cultivate is a nonprofit in the community that is working with those that are impacted by the criminal justice system. And part of our goal has always been to be a community partner that comes to fill the gaps in some of the services that corrections is able to offer and really gaps in the lives of those that are impacted by the criminal justice system. So one of the things we do is as the part of the College of Trades is we help to build some of those partnerships that can come in and support. So those partnerships provide education, they can provide professional certifications. Those partners can provide essential skills for the workplace building kind of habits for good stable employment. And then we also work with other partners too like Mentoring to Excel, to get mentors for the people that are in our programs.

Theresa Freed [00:05:29] Okay. And so what are some of those success stories that you can talk about?

Lee Jost [00:05:32] I can think of one right now. And we have a lady who graduated from our program. Her name's Lisa. And I can share a name and I'll tell you why in a second. But her name's Lisa. Lisa graduated out of the culinary program. She actually came in before she was at the center. She worked in construction, operating heavy equipment. But when she came to the center, she enrolled in College of Trades, decided she would go through the culinary program, ended up getting a job at Cheesecake Factory, and now is a nationally-recognized chef culinarian and for The Cheesecake Factory. And she's just recently come onto our board.

Theresa Freed [00:06:05] Okay. Well, that's that's impressive. And quite a quite a leap in life, huh?

Lee Jost [00:06:09] It is quite a leap. And we're impressed with what she's done. Cultivate was a part of the start of that. She's, of course, got a lot of initiative, been able to do a lot of that work herself. But we were really pleased that we got to be a part of giving her a new start.

Theresa Freed [00:06:24] All right. Any other success stories you want to share with us?

Erin Moeder [00:06:26] Well, I know you met one. That's Jeremy and Anna..

Theresa Freed [00:06:27] That's right. We'll hear from them and a little bit..

Erin Moeder [00:06:30] Anna is a ball of fire. And so she went through not only the College of Trades program, but was also matched with Jeremy through Mentoring to Excel. And so Jeremy has just provided that additional support for her that we love mentors to do. But another success story that we had that I want to touch on is we had a mentor and mentee, a male match, and this client got out. The mentor was was helping him. We got him set up with all the necessary things. He needed a car and was able to get a car donated through Cultivate and really got him on the right track. Well, he got out and he struggled and he ended up relapsing and back into the system. But why I consider this a success story is because that mentor is still with him and he's been able to help him turn it back around again. And he is back being productive, doing what he needs to do to hopefully give this another shot. He's had a long life of incarceration. And so just expecting him to completely flip that switch the first time out is sometimes unrealistic. And so to have that mentor be willing to follow him again through everything, again, knowing that he has an even greater chance this time of being successful is another one of our success stories that we get to see.

Theresa Freed [00:07:46] That's awesome. And so what are some of the biggest motivators for success for your clients?

Lee Jost [00:07:52] I think one of the big motivators is most of our clients have a vision for something better in their future. None of them want to be at the residential center. They want something different. And one of the motivators is they have an opportunity while they're there to actually participate in a program that's funded that they can get professional certifications. And at least with ours, they have a vision for doing something different. But sometimes they don't know how to put a name to that vision. And so just being able to sit with an instructor, learn like OSHA or learn to weld, and all of a sudden they start seeing a future that's beyond what they've done in the past. I think that's a big motivation. And then word starts to spread around the center and people talk about what's happening.

Theresa Freed [00:08:32] Okay. And one of the big factors, of course, of this is, is not just getting a job and sustaining that, but also improving some of those other areas of your life that are very stressful, like home. If someone has been incarcerated, they may have lost money, their connections with their family. And so rebuilding those and getting those life skills, how does how does this department do that?

Rodney Weber [00:08:55] Well, we have a lot of tools that we use as like covenant base. We have strengthened family programs that Cultivate helps us with and rebuilds that family dynamic. A lot of these guys have been away from their children for a very long time, their families for a long time. And coming out of custody, we know we want to ensure that that's a tight bond. We allow them to go on passes home to rebuild that trust as they go through the residential center program. So we have family counseling. We have mental health that helps out. We do library comes in and does read to me program, which is awesome, where somebody can record a book for their children to hear that parent's voice at night. Yeah it's a big impact. So we do a lot of stuff that impacts the family because we know that's a very big dynamic.

Erin Moeder [00:09:42] We also host family events every quarter and for them to bring in their children. And we have Santa Claus come at Christmas time and Cultivate helps us get gifts for every child that signs up for that program or for that event. And we have the Easter egg hunt coming up. And just all of. Those different events to help strengthen bonds. They we let the kids go trick or treating throughout our entire building at Halloween. And that gives the parent the opportunity to take their child trick or treating because they're missing out on that being in our facility. So we we really try and do everything we can to make our facility as positive as it can be for them to visit their families in.

Theresa Freed [00:10:23] All right those are great opportunities. And so, you know, obviously there are lots of barriers when they're coming back into the community. So can you talk a little bit about what those ongoing issues might be?

Rodney Weber [00:10:33] I think some of the fate that we face is transportation issues out in the community. Sometimes they they don't have a way to get back to work. We take them to work at the residential center. We pick them back up. But when they're back out on the field, probation, they need to find that way. We try to work with Uber and get Uber vouchers, bus passes. We try to find out as many ways that we can. Working with key partners like Cultivate, where they're trying to find cars for our clients is big. So that's that's been a very big barrier for us. And the you know, the other part of the barrier that I see sometimes is that, you know, these guys come out with a label. They're felons. And sometimes you get people that are a little bit step back when you meet a felon for the first time. We got to understand as a community. Ninety five percent of everybody that's incarcerated is going to get out. They're going to move back and take a line from Lee. They're our neighbors. They're moving back home. And I think if we bond together as a community to help these individuals out, not only do we help the crime rate and recidivism rate, but we're just making ourselves better. And I and I want to shout out to Johnson County because it's just the openness that they have given our clienteles with employment and other items. It's been a big key factor.

Theresa Freed [00:11:52] Okay. And what does employment look like here in Johnson County for these individuals? What kind of support do you have from some local employees?

Rodney Weber [00:11:59] Twenty three years ago, I started and you could say we we employed about 90 percent of our people in fast food. That was about the only door we could open. My staff go out in the field and they talk to employers. They tell them about the residential center and they try to open up those doors. We don't do that today. Today we're getting calls. It was before we didn't have enough employers for our clients. Now we don't have enough clients for the employers. So the doors are opening because people really want to give our our clientele a chance. That second chance and be involved. So they want to be a part of that solution. And every day we're getting a call and it's not only just the $7 an hour jobs, we're getting clients with jobs at $18 an hour. Manufacturing has boomed. So we're about 70 percent manufacturing construction at this time with our clients. So it is. It's grand.

Theresa Freed [00:12:51] That's amazing. That's amazing. And what kinds of supports are being offered to the clients? You hook them up with the job. But, you know, there's probably ongoing needs that they have related to employment and other things.

Erin Moeder [00:13:03] Well, some of the supports that we we try and give them while they're in our facility is we have volunteers that come in and they do everything from recovery meetings like AA and NA. But then we also have Bible studies and we have art class. We have board game night. We just have anybody that wants to come in. And we look at our volunteers as they are, that gap between the clients and the community and helping remind the clients that the community does care about them. And while they're there, they also have the opportunity to find out where these volunteers go to church, where they go to meetings, and then they can they can join them once they're out if they feel comfortable doing so.

Lee Jost [00:13:42] And one of the things Cultivate's realized is when people release, they need supports in the community that aren't necessarily a part of Johnson County Corrections. And so Cultivate's partnered with Johnson County Community College Foundation, which is one of the other partners for the College of Trades. And we have a transition coach that is employed by Johnson County Community College. So when our folks graduate and they get a taste of what that advanced education could be like, they actually have somebody at the community college who's been a part of College of Trades who they can connect with. They know their name. And Linda is is the person who's out at the community college. And she is a tremendous asset for those clients that release and are back in the community.

Erin Moeder [00:14:23] Another support I just have to mention, we recently put in kind of our own branch of the Johnson County Library in our facility. They have their own space. They are there every week, every Tuesday. The clients know they can go to this room and they can play board games. They can put together a puzzle, but they can also talk to real librarians from the library about the databases that they have and all of the free services that they offer. And so our goal and our hope is that these clients realize, well, they're in our facility, that all of the Johnson County Library branches are available to them once they're out. And that is just another support that they can utilize once they're out in our community and going to the library.

Theresa Freed [00:15:05] All right. That's that is a tremendous resource that we have available here in Johnson County. Just finally, can you talk about any kind of messages of hope for individuals who are leaving incarceration or recently incarcerated about about what can be their future?

Rodney Weber [00:15:23] I think their future's even brighter today than it was five, 10 years ago. There's more opportunities, the education in the community about what corrections is, what probation is. People want to give other people chances. And I think those doors are opening. We can all do better and increase that. But as we continue every day I come into work, I see more and more opportunities for our clients. And and just having this College of Trade program with the residential center and Cultivate being part of that, it's no words can describe it. It's just a great opportunity for these individuals.

Lee Jost [00:16:02] And if I could turn the question on its end a little bit, I guess I'd like to share hope with our community that we actually have people that are releasing from the residential center that have skills. They have mentors. They are they are learning how to find supports in the community that they are releasing into. And we have community businesses and community partners that are beginning to extend those partnerships into the walls of corrections and really building bridges to these clients that are there at the residential centers. So when they leave, they're not leaving and having to jump some huge chasm back into life. But instead, they have people who know their names, who are walking with them and saying, we're here for you.

Theresa Freed [00:16:44] All right. Well, thank you all for being here today. Thank you. Thank you. Next up, we're going to hear directly from those involved in adult residential community supports. We have with us a mentor and mentee. Welcome to Jeremy Didier and Anna Teal. Thanks for being with us. All right. Well, Jeremy, you serve as the mentor. So can you talk a little bit about your role and also the program?

Jeremy Didier [00:17:04] Yeah, sure. So the Mentor to Excel program matches community members with people who are in the correctional facility and are getting ready to return to traditional society. You know, you apply to be a mentor. You go through a background check. You're you're matched with a mentee and then you meet with them while they're still in the facility and kind of figure out what they want to do when they get out. And then when they get out is when the hard work starts. That's when we start, you know, facilitating and supporting and helping come up with a plan and just kind of being there through the process with for them, you know.

Theresa Freed [00:17:32] And what does the training look like?

Jeremy Didier [00:17:34] It's relatively simple, actually. It's an hour of volunteer training and an hour of mentor training. There's other trainings you can do, but you're not required to do them. You're required to meet with your mentee once a week for about an hour. And then we do follow up training every year to recertify. So pretty straightforward.

Theresa Freed [00:17:48] OK. And what sorts of things are you talking about during that meeting?

Jeremy Didier [00:17:52] Really? Anything we talk about? Gosh, what's going on? What's been happening in your life?

Anna Teal [00:17:57] Just real life stuff like what you're struggling with. And I need help. You know, it's just advice. It's like lunch with a friend sometimes.

Jeremy Didier [00:18:04] Yeah. Yeah, that's exactly it. It's I think it's nice to have someone who's kind like me and Cossa, I guess with a kid where you're the one person that's not connected to really anything with the government or her, anything that's happened. You know, you're just there. You're like a friend.

Theresa Freed [00:18:18] OK, that's great. All right. So for you both, can you share a little bit about what brought you into the program?

Anna Teal [00:18:24] OK. So there are. I was in TC, the therapeutic community. And there are a lot of different opportunities to connect with people to work on your support network. I personally don't have a super large, strong family support. So I knew that going from corrections straight to an Oxford house, being on ISP, I wouldn't need as many people in my life as possible to hold me accountable and just somebody on the other end of a phone call if I ever needed anything. And I had heard really, really good things about the program from Erin Moeder and from people that were also clients in. So for me, it's just another element of building up a network so that I can have the strongest recovery possible.

Theresa Freed [00:19:09] And can you share a little bit more about kind of what that recovery process looked like?

Anna Teal [00:19:15] It has been honestly, it's really difficult. It's a lifelong process and sometimes it's overwhelming because you never really get a break. And that's something that as a recovering addict, you just have to accept that you don't you don't get a day off. You don't ever have a chance where you can fully let your guard down. It's dangerous if you do that. So it has been at first it was really, really intense. I had to get a job. I had to. I live in an Oxford house. So I have that other element of support and accountability as well. I meet with my P.O. three times a month at least. I have a daughter who just turned 13. And so I'm getting back involved in her life as well. So there and then there's the whole going to meetings. There's a minimum requirement. You have to go to two to three 12-Step meetings a week and then whatever else people do, smart recovery people do things through churches. And so it's it was it was really intense at first. It was to save up money and get a vehicle and just keeping all of your ducks in a row. And as far as the mentor program goes, Jeremy has every time we meet, she asks, is there anything else you need? Is there anything else I can do for you? And it's just really nice to have somebody who has your best interests at heart and who genuinely wants to see you succeed in life.

Theresa Freed [00:20:43] That's great. Well, thank you for sharing that with us. And Jeremy, can you talk about why you're doing this?

Jeremy Didier [00:20:47] Oh, yeah. So my sister Robin committed a terrible crime a long time ago and served her debt to society. She served 10 years while she was sentenced to 10. She served five in Topeka. And when she got out, I mean, she had every every, I guess, opportunity to be successful. She had family support. She had community support. You know, she had a college degree. And she just really struggled. I mean, even with every connection support recovery program available to her, she struggled to get a job. She struggled to maintain, you know, personal and professional relationships. I mean, it was almost for her like serving an entirely different sentence. You know, there was the stigma of having spent almost 10 years in jail. You know, and having committed this crime. And and even though she finished that, you know, she still had to find her way. And in a world that had changed dramatically for her. You know, her family relationships were different. We'd all moved on. I had kids. I didn't have kids before. You know, she she was different. Her role in the family was different. And that was really challenging for her. I mean, ultimately, she was able to make it work, but it was just really awful to stand by and watch her go through that. So when I learned about the mentor program, I was really excited to be able to step in and help someone in a way that I wasn't able to help my sister.

Theresa Freed [00:21:58] And so how has this program impacted both of your lives?

Anna Teal [00:22:02] I feel like I have gained some sort of a family member out of it. The I've always heard friends are the family that you choose. And I think there's a lot of truth in that. And I think in the recovery community, especially, we tend to we'll spend holidays together. We will have big events where, you know, that everybody else is sober. Everybody else is not on the same path. I mean, all of our journeys look different, but everybody else is striving to become the best version of themselves possible. And so for me, this is like a close family member that I don't have. My mom passed away a few years ago. I don't have that person that I can pick up the phone in the middle of the night and call. And so that's been the biggest element of it for me is the connection. And Jeremy and I, the first time we met, she shared her story with me and her sister's story. And we talked about kind of what she was doing here and what had driven her to be a part of the program. And I immediately just felt a huge connection. I was like that. That's beautiful. And that makes so much sense. And I think it's a really great thing to try to get back in that way.

Theresa Freed [00:23:13] That's great. And for you?

Jeremy Didier [00:23:14] I mean, Anna is amazing. It's just been really incredible. I can't take credit for anything that she's done because she has absolutely worked her butt off to get where she is. And everything that she said earlier about it being really overwhelming and challenging is absolutely 100 percent accurate. And so, I mean, just the incredible job that she's doing and being able to be a part of that in some small way, if nothing else. You know, just to be with her along the journey has been amazing, very rewarding.

Theresa Freed [00:23:39] And you mentioned the time commitment. Can you talk a little bit more about about what that looks like for you?

Jeremy Didier [00:23:44] Oh, it's just an hour a week, an hour a week. And sometimes it's an hour every other week. It just kind of depends on on how our week is going. Know we both have kids. And so if there's an emergency, we we postpone. Snow days, kind of throw us off a little bit. But we talk on the phone a good bit and text in between. And I mean, the time commitment is pretty minimal for for the reward side that you get out of it. I mean, the benefit has been absolutely phenomenal.

Anna Teal [00:24:05] We sit. We have lunch. And it's something that when I look at it like it's an obligation, I need to do this for myself and I make myself take that hour and just relax and unwind. It's actually beneficial in a lot of different ways. Plus, some of the advice that she's given me is stuff that I wouldn't have gone to like my sponsor or one of my housemates for just things that have come up in conversation that have led to really good results in my life. My relationship improving so much with my daughter is a direct result of something really simple, really basic that came out of a conversation with her and she just said, stop overthinking things, just move into action. And I was like, Oh, you're right. I called my daughter that night. We spent an hour on the phone and now we hang out two to three times a week. So sometimes you just. Need that little nudge.

Theresa Freed [00:25:00] And so can you talk a little bit about kind of messages that both of you would would have for others who are facing similar barriers or obstacles in their life.

Anna Teal [00:25:12] A lot of people see getting in trouble, being on probation as just a punishment. But a lot of ways it's an opportunity, especially in a place like Johnson County. There are so many resources. They will help you with rides. They will help you get a job. They will help you with housing. They'll help you with your kids. They will help you with every element of your life. But it's up to you to step up and seek those opportunities and use the resources. People actually want to assist you. People want to see you get better. And there's absolutely no reason you're just selling yourself short. If you don't grasp those things.

Jeremy Didier [00:25:50] I mean, I would say the same. I mean, it it's an unbelievable opportunity. And there's so many resources out there to take advantage of. But it is also a lot. I mean, for the person returning to society, there are a lot of hoops still to jump through. And I thinkĀ  it's challenging from the outside looking in to fully appreciate all the things that people who are trying to get back up on their feet have to do on a daily basis, a weekly basis in order to get all the things done that they have to get done to get off probation and get off supervision, get their kids back, get a job, you know, go to their treatment meetings, you know, get their families put back together. It's a lot. But I have yet to meet a person who is not willing to step up and help out and give you a second chance or direct you to someone who can help or put you in a situation where you can get the help that you need. And it's so worth it in the end.

Theresa Freed [00:26:33] All right. Wonderful. And how can our listeners get involved? What should they do if they want to become a mentor?

Jeremy Didier [00:26:38] Reach out to Erin Moeder. She's the volunteer coordinator for the Johnson County Corrections Department, and she will hook you up. All right. Sounds good.

Theresa Freed [00:26:44] Well, thank you both for sharing your stories and your insight into what could be a really challenging situation for a lot of people. And hopefully our listeners are finding some hope in your message. Wrapping up our conversation on community corrections. We're going to focus on the importance of employment in building the skills needed to sustain a career following contacts with the corrections system. For more on that, we have Linda Linda Kozacek with Johnson County Community College in the College of Trades. Also here is Brianna Krull, who is a student of that program. Thanks for being here. All right, Linda. Can you talk about this collaboration with community corrections, what it is and how does it work?

Linda Kozacek [00:27:22] Sure. We'll probably need to give you just a little background on myself. I used to work for Johnson County Community College as a transition coach with adult education. So I worked with nontraditional students entering workforce or higher education. So I had a weird knowledge base of scholarships and career paths that some of my students needed to pursue. Then I became a volunteer at Cultivate and I was their essential life skills instructor for the past three years. So I helped start that program and was able to bring in that knowledge base to help the students at the Department of Corrections as they saw that there was a need for employment in the trades fields. I had this knowledge that the college had all these offerings and I thought it was a perfect match. So kind of connected Cultivate with people at the college and they formed a partnership. So now the Johnson County Community College is in collaboration with the College of Trades and providing programs and underwriting those with scholarship opportunities and students can take part in those. Right now we offer blueprint for welders, culinary OSHA training. In the past we've also done a welding program and we've also done some IT. Brianna was one of my students and helped her when she decided what she wanted to do get her the knowledge about some of the scholarship opportunities and get her connected to some counselors on the college campus and kind of set her off on her path.

Theresa Freed [00:28:55] OK. And we heard earlier in this episode just about kind of the change. The mentality is very different. Before when people would leave the corrections system. They were walking into a very low wage jobs, limited skills. But that's very much changed now. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Linda Kozacek [00:29:12] Well, we really tried to focus on career paths that will provide sustainable wages, good successful jobs for our students to have a pathway to being promotable and better opportunities as a volunteer. I was very enlightened to the situation of how set up for failure or some of the clients are when they exit corrections. They have obstacles such as housing. No one will hire them. Transportation issues, all these other things that just set them up for failure. And so we just wanted to provide job opportunities that would help set them up for success. And we wanted to make sure we had employers on board that would actually hire them because we don't want to just put them in a training program if no one is. Can I hire them with their backgrounds?

Theresa Freed [00:30:00] Right. That makes sense and Brianna. You're in the program and can you tell us a little bit about your story and how you came to the program and then what your path is right now?

Brianna Krull [00:30:09] So I had been through the residential center two times before, and this time I did the six month treatment program along with the residential side. And at the end of my six month treatment program. The next round of College of Trades came around and my mind set this this time was way more positive and goal-oriented. And I actually applied, I think, for every single one of them. Both are only allowed to do two. So I actually went and did the welding program, which was actually at the Johnson County Community College campus. And I also did the OSHA certification and I am currently employed at Shawnee Steel & Welding. So I'm actually using my welding experience through College of Trades in my current job, which is incredible. And it's honestly like she said, these are programs that enable you to not work a minimum wage job, which is where 90 percent of people coming out of corrections end up. They end up in the same minimum wage. Not so great jobs.

Theresa Freed [00:31:25] Let me just ask you. So having that higher wage job and really a career that that can sustain you in the community, does that help your your ability to be positive and have a great outlook for your future?

Brianna Krull [00:31:39] Absolutely. So with making making these changes in my life today and having seeing myself succeed in the College of Trades program allowed me to leave there with confidence and the ability to not apply for the minimum wage. Easy job to quit, get hired on it. I actually stayed in the residential center applying for higher paying jobs instead of getting that first instant job. So for me, it's been it's been life changing. The College of Trades program opened so many doors for me.

Theresa Freed [00:32:19] So any words of encouragement from both of you, for others who might be in a similar situation are feeling like, you know, there are no new options going forward.

Brianna Krull [00:32:30] There are so many resources out there with and my experience with the Johnson County Community College, with the College of Trades. But jails, institutions, they all have resources. So just asking for help is the first step. And more the more knowledge that you have leaving those places, the more you're going to succeed and just stay open minded. And it might not just come right out the gate, but anything worth doing is worth doing well and having patience for. And it's been an incredible experience for me.

Theresa Freed [00:33:10] Awesome. All right. From you?

[00:33:12] I think once people learn about the positivity of the program, they want to be a part of it. So Johnson County Community College actually hired me back as a transition coach, now working with continuing education. So I now get to follow students like Brianna who have graduated the program and are now taking other classes at the college to make sure that they're connected to the people they need to that if she runs into an obstacle she has somebody to call, that would be me. And I can connect her to the resources she needs. I'm by no means the expert on anything, but I can connect her to people in financial aid or admissions or housing issues or anything she might need. I can be there to connect her with. And I just love that the college believes in that and wants the students to succeed more than just getting them enrolled in the class.

Theresa Freed [00:33:59] That's great and wonderful program. And thank you both for being here today. All right. And learn more about community corrections in the show notes at this episode. Thanks for listening.

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