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Operation New Hope is pleased to announce that we will now be offering our nationally-recognized Ready4Work reentry training and support program to people prior to release from the St. Johns County Jail. This new and exciting partnership with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office is made possible because of a generous ARPA grant from the United Way of St. Johns County. This community partnership was celebrated today at the St. Johns County Reentry Center Ribbon Cutting.
Over 100 community stakeholders gathered to celebrate this first of its kind partnership. Sergeant Mike Clark welcomed all in attendance and stressed the importance of providing support and training people preparing for release.
St. Johns County Sheriff Robert Hardwick inspired the crowd by saying “This is an exciting day. The people who serve time behind these walls are human beings, and we’re going to make them something better than what they came in as.” He continued by adding “And it’s working by the way. We have reduced recidivism in St. Johns County by almost 10%. We went from 26% to 17%, when the national average is over 40%. We are doing this together as a society. “
Operation New Hope’s President and CEO Reggie Fullwood then followed by saying, “After listening to the Sheriff, I’m ready to run through a brick wall! I’m like ‘Yeah! Let’s Go!'” And then in all seriousness he added, “It really starts with leadership, and I can tell you, Sheriff Hardwick, that your commitment makes all the difference. The impact and the commitment of this team is just tremendous. I want to thank the United Way and St. Johns County for believing in us and supporting this pilot project that will allow us to provide training before people get out. So that when folks do get out, the transition time is shorter.”
Ready4Work graduates then took the podium to share how the reentry support they received at the St. Johns County Jail and Operation New Hope has set them up for success.
Traci Dielmann stated, “I thought I was on my own and that there was nobody there for me. People who come in here are broken. But what Operation New Hope has done for me is rebuild my confidence and allow me to go out and say ‘I’m just a normal human being. I made a mistake, and I’m here to make up for it.’ I have a huge team behind me now.”
Weston Rocheford added, “This is huge. This is amazing. In a short amount of time, I went to Operation New Hope, and they changed my life.”
Billy Case then shared, “I honestly don’t know where I would be today. A few short months ago, I was a guest at this gated community, and now I have a nice place to live. I’ve got a nice car. I’ve got a very good job, money in the pocket, money in the bank. And each day this get’s better and better and better. Thank you.”
Lieutenant Melton closed out the event and thanked everyone for making this community partnership a great success! #HopeStartsHere