Probation’s Community Service Program Is Recognized With Humanitarian Award By JERICHO
The Massachusetts Trial Court Community Service Program, an initiative of the Massachusetts Probation Service, was recently recognized with the 2016 Humanitarian Award by JERICHO: The Bureau for Exceptional Children and Adults for the work Community Service crews have performed on the agency’s 37-acre property.
For more than a decade, the Community Service Program has provided supervised work crews on a weekly basis at JERICHO’s Holyoke-based facility where probationers have cleared brush, weeded and mowed lawns, and planted gardens during the warmer months and cleared snow and ice during the winter. Crew members also clean the buildings on the property. JERICHO is a non-profit agency whose employees and volunteers work with parents, families, and professionals throughout Western Massachusetts to provide full inclusion of children and adults with special needs and disabilities into schools and the community. The award was presented at a recent luncheon held at the Summit View Banquet Hall in Holyoke. Michael LeCours, Assistant Statewide Community Service Supervisor, and Michael Orlandi, Assistant Court Services Coordinator, were on hand to accept the award. Orlandi supervises the crews at JERICHO.
JERICHO Associate Director Maria L.P. Burke said of the Community Service Program, “Working closely with staff and volunteers, these crews have helped to enhance the beauty of this peaceful property, been instrumental in maintaining the many gardens and tackled numerous projects. Best of all, everyone is always extremely nice to work with. It has been an honor for us to share our space.”
LeCours said, “It is a great honor for Community Service to be acknowledged for the work our crews have performed for JERICHO over the years. I have witnessed the great sense of accomplishment the members of the crews feel when they complete a job.”
Jeffrey Youens, a regular member of the Community Service crew at JERICHO for the past year, said he looks forward to performing the work.
“I like going to JERICHO because I know that I am doing something that helps others. It is a very nice experience and I think of it as a job. Every week, I clean the church in Holyoke,” Youens said.
Each year, Probationers perform a total of 300,000 community service hours statewide in lieu of paying court fees. The Community Service Program is part of Probation’s Office of Community Corrections which includes 18 community corrections centers statewide. Offenders are transported from the centers or courts to the project sites where they perform a range of tasks-- both traditional and non-traditional. This work includes trash pick-up along streets and highways; set-up of classrooms for the school year by moving furniture and painting walls; building cages for oyster seeds at state fisheries; stocking and distributing food at local soup kitchens; and setting up 1,000’s of chairs and tables for community concerts and events. This work has also led to full-time employment for many offenders.
The work performed by Probation is an example of restorative justice which focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with the community-at-large, according to Probation Commissioner Edward J. Dolan.
“This work enhances communities and enables offenders to give back in a positive way,” Dolan said.
“Our program strives to provide the best service for the state and non-profit agencies where our clients perform community service work. It is also the goal of the Community Service Program to provide a learning opportunity and a sense of achievement for each client with every project they complete,” said David Skocik, Statewide Community Service Supervisor.