The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department welcomed Boston City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley; President of “The Base,” Robert Lewis, Jr.; and community organizer Darren Howell to the Suffolk County House of Correction to speak at the Department’s new Re-Entry Initiatives to Successful Employment (R.I.S.E.) Program.
R.I.S.E. is a job readiness program that trains participants to develop the skills that can lead to successful employment upon release through the use of real-time mock interviews with real employers.
Eligibility for the mock interview program includes participation in job readiness training, provided in partnership with Project Place, which includes resume and application tutorials, workplace readiness trainings, and workshops designed to teach participants how to effectively communicate their abilities, skills, qualifications and experience to potential employers.
The thirteen participants of this inaugural program brought their newly-acquired skills into practice over two fifteen-minute mock interview sessions with eight Criminal Offender Record Information (C.O.R.I) “friendly” employers and vendors, who then provided constructive feedback.
House of Correction Superintendent Yolanda Smith opened the event speaking about the importance of the program and thanking the participating businesses.
“I especially want to thank the business partners who have so generously come in to help us,” said Superintendent Smith. “We are so very excited to have you here to help us as we prepare our men and women to return to their communities.”
Keynote speaker Councilor Ayanna Pressley detailed her experiences as the daughter of an incarcerated parent and spoke about the critical role that families play in successful re-entry.
“Never lose sight of the most important thing, which is family and reconnecting with it,” said Councilor Pressley. “I just want for you to keep fighting for your families, fighting for your children. I have every confidence in the world that you all will continue to rise and go on to make the contributions to the community that we need you to make. We really do need you.”
Community organizer Darren Howell, spoke of his personal experience as a formerly incarcerated individual at the House of Correction and about overcoming the obstacle of his C.O.R.I.
“In two weeks, I’ll be celebrating my 12-year anniversary since the day of my release from this facility,” said Howell. “When I was released, I didn’t know how to answer the question, ‘Have you ever been convicted of a crime?’ It’s still a difficult question for people to answer for employers but, hopefully, this program will help you to be able to answer it confidently, secure employment and begin living a positive, successful life.”
Closing the program, Robert Lewis, Jr. stated that, “We are morally obligated to do this work and we are obligated to ensure that you are trained, prepared and resourced to be productive citizens. I’m inspired by the fact that when we rise together, great things can happen.”