FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 14, 2014
CONTACT: Peter Van Delft
The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department recently held a graduation ceremony for participants of the Department’s CGI (Common Ground Institute) program.
The Common Ground Institute (CGI) – created and launched by Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins during his days as the Executive Director of Communications and External Affairs in May of 2005 – is a 10–week vocational skill–based program that is divided into two 5–week modules. Each section is designed to enhance and fortify employment skills that will aid participants in making a successful transition back into society post–incarceration. The CGI graduation ceremony is meant to celebrate those who have successfully completed the program, thereby gaining skills in carpentry, custodial maintenance, painting, landscaping, and urban farming –among others – that will help them secure employment upon release.
Assistant Deputy Superintendent John D’Amore, Director of Vocational Education and the host of the graduation ceremony, spoke to the guests about the success of the CGI program and thanked a number of people, including Sheriff Tompkins, for making that success possible.
“By now you have certainly heard about the success and unbelievable strides CGI has made toward re–entry,” said ADA D’Amore. “Of the 887 that have enrolled in this program over the course of 60 cycles, 726 have passed and been OSHA certified. Workforce Development Coordinator Alan Spencer has informed me that 67 participants have been employed since January 2014. I would like to mention and thank what I call the “can–do” team at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department. I know that there has been a great deal of personal effort expended by these individuals to make CGI a success.”
ADA D’Amore then congratulated the graduates directly and emphasized to them the significance of their achievement.
“Congratulations to all of you,” said D’Amore. “You’ve worked very hard to get here, and I know it wasn’t easy. On this day, life will give you the opportunity to be your best, to live and to act true to the unique and beautiful person you know you are. If you’ve been wishing for a perfect opportunity, it is here and now. This day will be what you make of it, and there is no opportunity better than that.”
Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins was particularly pleased to see that another group of returning citizens have taken these positive steps themselves to help secure their futures.
“Programs like these are what we are all about at the Sheriff’s Department,” said Sheriff Tompkins. “It isn’t simply enough to take care of inmates while they’re in our facilities; we have to provide them with the tools they need to better themselves when they return to their communities so that they don’t come back. The men who just graduated have demonstrated that they want better for themselves and their families, and with these new skills under their belt, they have a chance to achieve just that.”
For more information about the Common Ground Institute, please visit: www.scsdma.org/divisions/education.shtml.