By Alfred Perez, Parole Agent II Supervisor
Mid-City #4 Parole Unit
On June 6, the Los Angeles Mid-City District of the Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) hosted their first College and Vocational Fair at The Proud Bird Event Center, which offered enrollment information from 36 colleges and vocational programs.
Approximately 150 parolees and 50 individuals from the public attended the event.
“It was rewarding to see our parolees walk away with so many resources,” said Patricia Tillman, Parole Agent III Supervisor, who spent months organizing the fair. “The purpose of the fair was to bring the resources to our population and allow them to make better choices that could change their lives.”
Attending the fair were several local community colleges and vocational programs who were committed to assisting the Mid-City District’s parolee population with addressing their criminogenic needs. According to Parole Agent I Jesse Bueno, “It was the perfect opportunity for parolees to learn about programs in their community that can eventually better their lifestyles.”
Agent Bueno was instrumental in coordinating transportation to the event as over 40 participants from the Mariposa House, a residential drug treatment program, attended the fair.
All attendees listened to presentations given by James Symington III, Mid-City District Administrator; Myla Rahman, District Director from State Senator Steven Bradford’s office (representing the 35th District); and Kellie Nadler, Deputy Director from Corrections to College California.
Symington encouraged the parolees to take advantage of the resources now available that were not offered through DAPO 20 years ago when he started working for the division. Rahman spoke about the importance of individuals receiving a “second chance” resulting from poor decision-making. Nadler spoke about the unprecedented growth of college programs in prisons and county jails in California.
“It was a very positive event that highlighted the collaborative effort among DAPO, colleges, vocational training programs, and the community,” District Administrator Symington said. “I hope it continues next year as DAPO needs to continue building resources for our population to compete in today’s labor market.”
Karen Thacker, Regional Parole Administrator for the Southern Region, had high praise for the Mid-City District staff.
”You and your team went above and beyond to create a meaningful event to assist offenders with resources that can have a life changing impact,” she said.
The Mid-City District thanked the sponsors and offered special thanks to End Product Development for designing the flyers and banners for the event. The Mid-City also thanked to Michael Williams, a lifer parolee for sharing his message about his positive experience while being employed as cook at the LA Kitchen.
An additional word of appreciation was offered to professional comedian Antoine Young, who enlightened and entertained the crowd with his humor at the onset of the event. The fair’s attendees also received s special treat thanks to free haircuts provided by Royal Barber Institute.
The Mid-City District staff said they look forward to continued collaboration with the community seeking resources that would assist the parolee population in achieving higher education and/or completing vocational programs, which ultimately enhances their ability to be placed in career jobs, and in turn, benefits the community as a whole.