GEO Reentry Services celebrated National Recovery Month nationwide throughout September with events that highlighted the importance of reentry services. Staff, program alumni, visitors and current residential reentry and non-residential program participants took part in scheduled events that included Recovery Month walks, guest speakers, sign contests and overall focus on the importance of using the tools of reentry services to begin a life that is substance abuse and crime-free.
In New Jersey Alumni Services members and staff from local facilities participated in a community “Walk for Wellness” and concert on Sept. 21 in Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J. Individuals from GEO Reentry programs in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania traveled to the event.
“It was truly inspirational to see so many gathering to share the message of recovery,” said Arthur Townes, Coordinator for New Jersey Alumni Services. “We are proud to carry the message that reentry works, and we are there to support recovery as others transition into the community.”
The Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center in East St. Louis, Ill., held a “Together We Are Stronger” Recovery Walk on Sept. 27 in a designated area on the grounds of the facility, with GEO staff holding custom-made signs and posters in support of Recovery Month. Approximately 230 inmates participated in this event.
“It was great to see staff smiling and having fun, laughing and participating as a team,” said Lori Moore, GEO Program Director at SWICC. “It was an uplifting celebration for all.”
GEO Reentry staff also created a Recovery Month “Spirit Contest.” Housing units were able to design and decorate their dayrooms with posters that highlight recovery. Many made a real effort and the result was a powerful array of posters that were displayed. Judges were Director Moore, AD Johnson, HR Moore, FC Jones, PM Morrison and Chaplain Hoffman.
GEO Reentry staff at North Kern State Prison in Delano, Calif., also celebrated National Recovery Month by providing a whole week of guest speakers who continued with “personal shares” from inmates regarding their journey to prison and their hopes of recovery. Visiting speakers consisted of GEO Reentry staff from other facilities as well as community members. Topics included overcoming addiction, criminality, being raised in poverty, prior gang involvement, incarceration, prostitution, being a victim of human trafficking, loss of children to the state and dealing with loss of life.
“Recovery Month was successfully celebrated at North Kern,” said Danielle Gonzales, Program Director. “Inmates were moved by the stories shared by the visitors, enough to be encouraged to carry on the message weeks after the visitors were gone. Every day individuals volunteered to stand up in front of staff, correctional officers, and their fellow inmates and share their stories of where they came from, where life went wrong, and what they plan to change moving forward.”
Program participants created recovery-themed signs.