Whether the need is for referrals for substance abuse treatment or just to talk with a mentor who has been through it all, offenders released from state prison under Assembly Bill 109 and supervised in Santa Clara County now have a place to go for help.
The South County Reentry Resource Center opened April 14 in the Sig Sanchez Government Center at 80 Highland Ave. in San Martin. Open every Tuesday, it will serve Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Martin residents released under AB 109.
Over the next six months, program administrators will track who receives services, what kind of help clients seek and receive and whether it helps to stay them out of jail, according to the director of reentry services for Santa Clara County, Javier Aguirre.
A reentry resource center in San Jose has helped reduce recidivism—the incidence of formerly incarcerated people re-offending and landing back in jail, Aguirre said.
Staff at the San Martin facility also will help connect clients with the state’s food stamp program, Cal Fresh, Medical and employment services, among others.
“This is what it’s all about—not only providing opportunities for people who want to change and who want to be healthy, productive members of the community, but its also better for the community in which they live,” said District 1 Supervisor Mike Wasserman of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. “It’s a win-win-win.”
A licensed marriage and family therapist with Santa Clara County, Karen Sturm, will be on hand for mental health and substance abuse assessments, and can refer clients to rehab.
While getting someone into treatment can be a “hard sell,” Sturm said no addict has a happy ending unless they break the cycle of use.
“I’ve done this for a long time and each time a client comes in, the story is similar; they’ll be clean and sober for a period and then fall back into it.
“Replacing a drug that makes you feel good and forget about your problems (with healthy coping strategies) is really tough,” she said.
Connecting clients with positive role models who escaped the grips of a deadly addiction is critical, she said.
The program administrator for faith-based services at the new center agreed.
“Our vision here is to see people come through and become peers to help the next people through the door,” said Nellie Lee, who will connect clients of all faiths with faith groups across the county to help their recovery. “If someone like that who has actually lived it says to you, ‘there is help and you can get it too,’ the trust begins to happen and when that happens, they can get back to being productive members of society.”
“There is a network of people who want help and hope—and they should have access to that,” Lee added.
The South County Reentry Resource Center is open on Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. To be eligible for services, clients must live in Gilroy, Morgan Hill or San Martin and be under county supervision through AB 109.