The People’s Tribune

Dozen NECC Offenders Complete ‘Connections To Success’ Program

On Thursday, Aug. 8, a total of 12 offenders from Northeast Correctional Center (NECC) graduated from “Connections to Success” with a ceremony and refreshments for those who attended.

The first Connections to Success program was completed in July 2018 at Algoa Correctional Facility and recently a graduation was held for approximately 15 offenders at KCRC – Kansas City.

Brad Lambert, co-founder of Connections to Success, remarked, “It was a pleasure to see offenders and people of the community present to show case the program.”

The program ran Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., and all 12 offenders who started finished the program at NECC.

About Connections To Success

Kathy Lambert, co-founder and CEO, opened Dress for Success Midwest in 1998 after reading an article about Dress for Success (DfS), New York. The article explained how DfS provided interview appropriate attire to women in disadvantaged situations, helping them be on the same playing field as other candidates. Understanding the need for this service locally, Kathy opened the first DfS affiliate in the St. Louis region.

In 1999, Kathy’s husband, Brad Lambert, saw his wife’s happiness and positive outcomes serving their community and decided to leave his position as a civil engineer to launch another needed program, Wheels for Success. Once women were suited through DfS Midwest and successfully interviewed for a job, many lacked reliable transportation to and from their new job. Wheels for Success was launched to help hardworking participants overcome this barrier by providing them with donated vehicles in good condition.

As months passed, Kathy and Brad began to identify other gaps in services, recognizing that suits and cars could not meet every need. Participants wanted to move forward, but many lacked the training and resources needed to excel in their place of employment. They needed childcare assistance, further education, mentors and support systems while on their journey to economic independence. Kathy, Brad and their team created comprehensive programming to address these challenges and break the cycle of poverty. In 2001, they brought their programs together under the name Connections to Success (CtS).

Since that time, CtS has grown to include sites in the Kansas City region and a site in East St. Louis. Because the CtS model produces measurable ROI and sustainable change, they have started equipping other nonprofits and agencies with the training and tools needed to replicate the CtS model in their communities. The first replication sites started in Kansas in 2014.

Since the creation in 1998, they gave served nearly 25,000 people through our locations in Kansas, Missouri and Illinois thanks to the support of wonderful donors, partners, volunteers and staff. They are honored to journey alongside the individuals and families who come through our doors as they move toward their goals, dreams and economic independence.

Some of the remarks made about NECC offenders following completion of the Connections to Success include “a lot of insight and wisdom, was said about Joseph Dodson who worked in the construction field. He said “I believe if you change your actions, you change your life.”

Robert Grimes worked in the landscaping business for eight years. he plans to provide quality landscaping to a community, be a better man, be honest, wise, thoughtful, sincere, and truthful.

Ryan Harlan, affectionately known as “Too Tall”, worked in the construction field for over five years. He remarked, “no matter what has happened in the past, you can have a better future.”

Deputy Warden at NECC Lori Lewis was instrumental in bringing the Connections to Success to the Bowling Green facility.

Another graduate, Austin Hawe, said, “we are all role models to someone – be positive. I want to help the next generation and I am ready to go make a difference.”

Taylor Medivich who has five years in the restaurant business was said to be willing to learn and believes in himself.

Graduate Joshua Powell was said to be a deep thinker and has worked in the music industry as a musician and a producer. He said, “I look forward to taking skills after I’m out and put them to good use. I have the confidence and ability to do something with myself after I’m released.

The graduation ceremony ended with NECC staff, interview individuals, and others speaking to the offenders about how proud they were of them, offering help when released, and wishing them good luck before cake and punch were served to those present.

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