- Massachusetts Probation Service
Media Contact for Worcester District Probation’s Hope’s Closet provides new start
Coria Holland, Communications Director
Worcester, MA — Five years ago, Worcester District Court Probation staff emptied a supply closet and filled it with clothing, shoes, housewares, and toiletries that were provided to people recently released from prison with just the clothes on their backs. Items are also given to the “chronically homeless,” those who are struggling and need a helping hand, and to juveniles—runaways and foster children—who come before the court without clothing or a warm winter coat.
Hope’s Closet was launched by two Probation Officers and administrative staff who witnessed the need among probationers first-hand. This need continues to increase and Assistant Chief Probation Officer Dawnmarie V. Mahoney, Probation Officer Kerry Coakley, Probation Office Manager Lois Ciuffredo, and Probation Operations Supervisor II Pamela “Pam” Therrien continue to solicit, sort out and stock items, and provide to those in need on a daily basis.
Although the volunteers who introduced Hope’s Closet do not closely track the number of people they have outfitted, they estimate that the closet has provided for nearly 1,500 adults, children, and families. This year, the closet can use such donated items as blankets, sleeping bags, backpacks, and bus passes, as well as winter weather clothing such as gloves, mittens, and coats.
“It’s difficult to order someone to complete a treatment program or meet with their Probation Officer certain days and times and do drug testing and not consider that they have been just released from the House of Corrections with nothing. Sometimes we overlook their basic needs. Hope’s Closet has helped them start on the right foot,” Mahoney said.
Coakley added, “The people we are helping are able to get dressed for job interviews and court. It is empowering them to think ‘I can do this’ and when we send them out into the world after Probation, they have something to start with.”
Commissioner of Probation Edward J. Dolan said Hope’s Closet is one of a number of efforts across the state that help Probationers with basic needs not just during holiday season but throughout the year. When the needs of the court-involved are met, it provides big dividends.
“Worcester District Probation’s Hope’s Closet provides hope and empowerment to those who are struggling and looking to make a change. When probationers are successful in making that change, their lives are improved, their family’s lives are improved and our communities are safer,” Dolan said.
Picture above: Two of Hope’s Closet founders Worcester District Probation Officer Kerry A. Coakley and Assistant Chief Dawnmarie Mahoney.