“It was truly moving to read what your (Paws & Stripes) program did for her”
Editor’s Note: The following article is written by Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – As your Sheriff, I absolutely love to share good news with our citizens and especially stories about our many successful initiatives that forever change lives!
As you may know, our Paws and Stripes Program uses inmates to train rescue dogs from our shelter to become child comfort dogs for children who have been victims of crime.
It is an amazing program and tonight I am extremely proud to share a story about a young woman who spent some time in the Brevard County Jail and who has now turned her entire life around because of our Paws and Stripes Program.
The news came in a recent correspondence we received from a faculty member of the Business Administration Program at the University of Maine at Presque Isle.
As part of a workforce development initiative, the University recently implemented a fully online, competency-based, adult degree completion program to help offer a pathway for Maine residents to gain a credential of value. They have observed great success with their program and are serving a desperately under-served student population.
One of their recent success stories is also a success story for the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Paws and Stripes Program as well. A University student who just completed her Bachelor’s Degree last month through their adult education program had to develop a communication plan for a business or non-profit organization as part of her finals project.
As a result, the student chose to use the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Paws and Stripes Program as the organization she would highlight because, in 2017, she was an inmate at the Brevard County Jail and was selected to participate in the program.
As a result of her finals project, a faculty member with the University reached out for our agency to express just how impressed they were with our program and how much they learned through the student’s course work and presentation.
Most importantly though, they wanted to let us know about the very positive impact the program had on their student and how those who oversee it, had made a huge difference in turning her life around.
The faculty member noted, “I would never pretend to understand all that happens when someone is incarcerated, but I can imagine that it is a time when one may believe they do not have many options for moving forward. The Paws and Stripes Program not only gave her an option, it gave her a sense of purpose, connection, and pride.”
“It allowed her to develop communication and organizational skills. It gave her direction as she developed a desire to work with animals, and was key in her finding that first job upon release.”
Due to her new passion to work with animals, she had stopped by a Pet Care/Boarding/Grooming business to see if she could volunteer her time. They were so impressed with her, they offered her a job, fully understanding the context from which her experience with animals came from.
They were willing to take a chance on her, just as we were with the program participation, and just as the University did with their own program.
When she moved to Florida the student was 30 credit hours short of having her degree. When she was released from our facility, she returned to Maine to live with family, where she began working for the pet care business and where she learned about the degree completion program.
She then paid for her education from her hard earned money with her new found skill set!
The student just finished her degree and is now moving on to begin that next chapter in her life. A chapter that we all believe would read very differently if not for opportunities these programs offered, great mentors and her own hard work and desire to be successful!
“The personal impact statement she put at the end of her class project left the faculty in tears. It was truly moving to read what your program did for her. It was because of that, I wanted to reach out to you,” said the faculty member.
“To applaud you for having such a wonderful program and let you know what you are doing has made a difference, and to pass along praise for program administrators that are working with the inmates every day to help them prepare for a bright future. I hope you will pass along my praise to them and let them know of her continued success.”
In closing, it takes outstanding people to make success stories happen.
There is no doubt that the incredible efforts of this faculty member are making great things happen in people’s lives, and of course, I can’t brag enough about our Paws and Stripes Team as we are truly blessed to have people in our lives who not only can but do make a difference.
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