By Augie Ghilarducci
It was a long journey to reach the certificate ceremony in Kendall County Jail for the life skills and employment-readiness programming I led there titled “Keeping It Real: A Path to Re-Entry.” It included a nearly 6-month COVID-19-related “sabbatical.” The jail has done a wonderful job making the environment a safe space in which these programs are conducted. We did group together for a quick photo but wore masks and maintained social distancing throughout the conclusion of this cohort and now the start of another. Thank you to Sheriff Dwight Baird and the jail staff for their commitment to re-entry programming.
“Keeping It Real” allows 2nd Opportunity to help currently incarcerated individuals create a release re-entry plan and obtain skills in goal setting, interviewing, communication, financial literacy, and conflict resolution. We also provide post-release assistance in employment, housing, job training, and referrals to other essential services. We have grown to a point where we now receive 4-5 calls a week from those being released or their family members asking for assistance. Our website shows the depth of our work and offers a monthly newsletter designed specifically for currently and formerly incarcerated individuals and their families, as well as others who want to build a new life after a negative life-changing event.