“Knowledge is power. It’s up to you; it’s your choice. My past is my asset,” a reentry program alumnus named Cassandra S. recently told a crowd of more than 300 residents at Talbot Hall’s Alumni night. The event featured speeches by GEO Reentry alumni who emphasized to Talbot Hall residents that change is possible as a result of reentry programming. Thirty alumni, who graduated from various GEO Reentry programs in New Jersey, volunteered to attend the event as part of GEO Reentry’s Alumni Services network.
Talbot Hall, located in Kearny, New Jersey, is a residential assessment and treatment center that accommodates male residents referred from the New Jersey Department of Corrections. GEO Reentry provides a full program of evidence-based reentry treatment services at Talbot Hall through its contract with Education and Health Centers of America (EHCA).
“We are extremely proud of the powerful message our alumni willingly bring to current residents,” Richard P. McCourt, a senior area manager for GEO Reentry Services, said.
Also in attendance were Rita Darden, director of human resources, and B.J. Shelton, director of employee and labor relations, from GEO Corporate Headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida. Ms. Darden and Mr. Shelton made the trip north to visit an alumni gathering and New Jersey facilities.
Members of the alumni network consistently volunteer their time to discuss their lives with current residents following completion of reentry programming. During the Talbot Hall event, 15 alumni shared their stories, while Altorice F., a 14-year alumnus, and Tyrone B., were awarded plaques of appreciation for going over and above the call to reach out to help others.
“I see so many lives transformed, from complete hopelessness to tremendous successes, all made possible by committing to change through embracing the programs. Individuals are enjoying fellowship with other alumni and realizing lifelong goals. Change can be accomplished,” Arthur Townes, director of New Jersey Alumni Services, said.
“We are honored to support such a strong Alumni Services program at Talbot Hall,” Melissa Craten, program coordinator at Talbot Hall, said. “It is very satisfying to see individuals once residents return as alumni members, experiencing lives of fullness and success, and returning to carry the message to others.”
Several members gave tribute to Mr. Townes, reflecting on their days as a resident and the impact his visits at alumni meetings had on them. They were able to recall how inspired they became by his message.
“Get off the block and into the boardroom,” Altorice F. said, speaking after receiving his award. He shared the impact giving back to others has had on him. One alumnus shared about spending 47 years of his life in prison. He is now an active alumni member and anxious to share the message of becoming crime free. “Choose to live by choice, not by chance,” he said.