Category Archives: Press

NY Times: Out of Prison, and Staying Out, After 3rd Strike in California

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LOS ANGELES — William Taylor III, once a lifer in state prison for two robbery convictions and the intent to sell a small packet of heroin, was savoring a moment he had scarcely dared to imagine: his first day alone, in a place of his own.

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From Jail to Skid Row, where ‘all healing needs are met’ LA Times

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Recently released inmates walk past the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Community Reentry and Resource Center outside the Twin Towers jail in downtown Los Angeles in 2014. (Los Angeles Times)

 

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How Patina teamed with formerly incarcerated cooks to prepare food for the Emmys

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 Full Article Daily Dish

By Zan Romanoff

The sight of the team preparing salads for the Primetime Emmys Governors Ball dinner, the largest formal sit-down dinner in North America, resembled a laboratory more than it did a kitchen. On Sunday evening, some 250 cooks were working in the L.A. Convention Center’s heavily air-conditioned prep space, winding their way through rows of folding tables set end-to-end with 4,200 gleaming white plates.

A few hundred feet away, the Convention Center’s cavernous interior had been transformed into a backdrop fit for the Hollywood spectacular it was about to host: Gold cylinders hung from the ceiling made the room feel like the interior of an elaborate pipe organ. There were calla lilies on every table and champagne cocktails being mixed at the bars in every corner, plus a “winner’s circle” where Alec Baldwin and Nicole Kidman could have their names engraved onto their newly awarded Emmys.

But the kitchen was a kitchen — sober, modest, efficient. Each cook on the line was responsible for plating an individual element of the salad: placing tomatoes or plums or a few leaves of basil, scooping quinoa or drizzling vinaigrette. Last of all came Ernest Rich, wiping the plates, making sure there was not a grain of quinoa or a splash of oil out of place.

Most of the cooks working that night were regularly employed by Patina Restaurant Group, which has catered the ball for the last 22 years, or else came to the job through Patina’s on-call catering list.

Rich, however, was unusual: At 58, he’s new to the world of food service. In fact, he’s still relatively new to the world outside of prison, where he served 19 years for charges related to what he describes as “a gram of dope.” He went in in 1997, at the height of the three-strikes law, when Motorola was introducing the first flip phones; he emerged to drug-related sentence reduction legislation, a world of omnipresent iPhones.

Edgar Ulisses Flores, left, and James Rich — trained by L.A. Kitchen — prep salad dishes in the kitchen for the 69th Emmy Awards Governors Ball. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

“There’s a lot of things going on right now that makes it twice as hard for a person to get his life back on track,” Rich says, so he’s especially grateful for the nonprofit L.A. Kitchen, which trained him in the basics of food service work and connected him to his current job with Patina. Normally he’s in the kitchen at Rise Up Café, a site Patina manages out of the downtown California Endowment building, but today his plates would be going out to guests such as Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon.

L.A. Kitchen is the brainchild of an entrepreneur and philanthropist named Rober Egger. It runs a job training program for people interested in getting into the culinary world; classes, usually composed of about 20 people each, are about half young adults who have aged out of the foster care system and half older folks who are either formerly incarcerated or homeless and in need of job training and life-skills coaching. Rich graduated as a part of Class 9 in April; Class 12 had its first day of training last week.

L.A. Kitchen began collaborating with Patina early this year when Rise Up Café agreed to serve as an internship site for L.A. Kitchen students and prioritize hiring them after graduation. Collaborating on the Governors Ball was as a natural next step: 10 of the chefs on site on Sunday were L.A. Kitchen graduates.

It’s important to Egger that his cooks aren’t anyone’s charity case.

“That’s what I like, is that kind of surprise element of, you can’t tell, can you?” Egger says. “Guess which one of these men and women were in prison. You can’t.” They’re well-trained, with the same skill set as their professional peers. Joachim Splichal, Patina’s chef and founder, can attest to that: He was on hand Sunday to make sure everything — every single element of every single dish — was up to Patina’s standards.

The L.A. Kitchen cooks’ skills are thanks in part to the rigorous training provided by their chef instructor, Charlie Negrete, who worked at swank restaurants such as the Peninsula Beverly Hills and Bottega Louie before his father died, homeless and addicted to drugs, and inspired him to seek out more meaningful work in the culinary world.

“Chef Charlie, he’s, like, this is what you’re going to be expecting. I was just, like, yeah, yeah, OK, and then I got to the kitchen [and] it was, like: I know how to do this,” says Edgar Ulysses Flores, a baby-faced L.A. Kitchen grad, newly 30, who was also helping prep the Governors Ball. Flores spent 11 years in jail, beginning when he was 18; most of his adult life so far has passed behind bars.

Now, says Flores, “I can cook octopus with a sous vide. Shucking oysters, I learned how to do that. Speed, skill. Everything I know, I learned through them.”

Healing the community, one member at a time

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EDITOR’S PICK SPOTLIGHT TOP STORY
Rocky Baier, Special to Inside Tucson Business

From Inside Tucson Business Sept 15, 2017

Once you’re in the loop, it’s hard to get out. Addiction latches onto people, controlling their lives, forcing them to commit crimes, push away family and friends, and harm themselves and others. That’s where the Amity Foundation comes in.

The Amity Foundation, founded in the late 1960s in Tucson, is a nonprofit organization that works to break the cycle of addiction.

Amity now serves 3,000 men and women daily in Arizona, California and New Mexico. Its services reach into prisons, as well as residential campuses such as the Circle Tree Ranch in eastern Tucson.

Circle Tree Ranch is a therapeutic community that breaks the addictions of clients—or “students,” in the lingo of Amity—with a long-term curriculum that has been developed over the last half-century. The end goal is to get people back on their feet to stay on their feet, breaking the cycle of recidivism.

“The recidivism rate in the U.S. is outrageous,” said communications director Barry Warne. “People just keep going back (to jail). So we can interrupt that cycle and then interrupt the generational cycle.”

According to a study done by the United States Sentencing Commission, nearly half of federal offenders released in 2005 were “rearrested for a new crime or rearrested for a violation of supervision conditions” in the following eight years. 

One reason Circle Tree Ranch is special is because it allows children to stay with their parents, taking them out of the foster care system and rekindling a family dynamic while parents tackle their addictions. 

Bringing the entire family into the healing process creates a “ripple effect” for the entire community, according the Ray Carroll, a former Pima County supervisor who now serves as Amity’s community and government relations representative. 

“Our ripple effect is not just jobs that we produce, but better outcomes in families,” Carroll said. “When you save one person, a head of household, you save their whole family and you raise the quality of life for the entire neighborhood or block they live on.”

Running Circle Tree Ranch requires constant work on the grounds, including construction and maintenance, as well as in the kitchen and the office. 

Training equips students with real skills they can use to get back on their feet after they graduate from the program. It’s another way Amity gives back to the community, as many of the jobs at the Ranch are filled by previous students. 

One such graduate, Nicole Benson, works in the communications department for Amity, running computers and large printing machines in the print shop on site. 

“Most of us here came from a really rough background, grew up in the lifestyle, became a product of the lifestyle,” Benson said. “I grew up not knowing any better. I ended up having three children by the time I was 21 years old. I didn’t know how to be a mom. I quickly turned to drugs to cover up my pain and emotions and quickly fell into that lifestyle.”

From there, she was in and out of prison, giving her children to their father. She finally had a wake-up call in the last month after an 18-month jail sentence when she learned that the father of her children was killed in a motorcycle accident. While still behind bars, she learned of the Amity program.

“I went to them and told them ‘I need help. I am leaving this prison in a couple of weeks, if I am to hit the streets, I’m going back to the same lifestyle, I don’t know any different,’” Benson said. 

Eventually, she found herself in Arizona after being transferred from Los Angeles and felt at home immediately. 

Both Bond and Warne were also once students at Amity. 

Bond first came to Amity when he was six years old. He was one of the children allowed on campus while his parents went through the program, giving him a very different childhood.

“I grew up seeing my parents behind glass and in jail, talking to them on the phone in prison, and my daughter will never have that experience,” Bond said.

When Bond was in his mid-20s, he became addicted to opioids and became a student himself.

When he first checked himself in, staying sober for one day was a huge accomplishment for him, but day by day he got the drugs out of his system. As a student, he worked in nearly every part of the community he could, learning what Amity does in the process.

However, once clean, Bond’s problems shifted. He was faced with learning how to be a good father, husband, son, and friend while he was a student, and regained his identity through the relationships he built in the Amity community.

Warne discovered thataddiction is just a Band-Aid on another problem, a symptom of some other virus.

“And here, [the virus is] a bad childhood start, all kinds of self-esteem issues, all kinds of messaging you got in our highly, highly outer directed society where it’s all about being 95 pounds and fabulous and rich, (those messages) that kind of stick on us over the years.”

Once people get clean, Amity helps people find transitional housing in Dragonfly Village and employment. 

“If by the time they’ve completed [the program] they don’t have a safe place to live and some type of income, whether through employment or benefits, then we’re really not succeeding in our mission,” Bond said.

Once students stop worrying about drug use, they can begin to live normal, stable lives. 

“I don’t worry about drug use now, I worry about having a teenage daughter,” Bond said.

Rocky Baier is a University of Arizona journalism student and Inside Tucson Business intern.

From Inside Tucson Business Sept 15, 2017

Ray Carroll: Why I joined the fight to stop opiate abuse

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Just shy of 20 years as Pima County’s District 4 supervisor, it was time to decide whether to seek a sixth term or hang up my spurs from elected life altogether. I decided now would be the right time to do an encore career in the world of nonprofit service. I hope to somehow move my success in politics to significance in a more direct and meaningful way with humanity as my focus.

2nd Chance Graduate Throws 1st Pitch at LA Dodgers Game

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LA Dodgers Honor Union Members At Tonight’s Game Against The Padres

The Los Angeles Dodgers will hold Union Night Friday evening, with more than 3,000 union members, family and friends from more than 30 unions expected to attend the game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.

Union Leaders To Be Honored

Union leaders will be recognized during a pregame ceremony on the field.

The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by Isreal Guillen, a graduate of the Second Chance Pre-Apprentice Bootcamp, which helps place formerly incarcerated individuals into paid apprenticeships that lead to union jobs.

The Opioid Crisis | Join Ray Carroll & Pamela Jay on Buckmaster Show with Testimonial

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The Buckmaster Show Live 8/9/2017:
Arizona’s Opiate Crisis

by rbrandt

Today on Buckmaster – A deep dive into Arizona’s opiate crisis. We talk with Ray Carroll, community and government relations director for Tucson-based Amity Foundation. Also Amity’s Project Director Pamela Jay. Also, University of Arizona Ecologist Tyson Swetnam talks about his research concerning how mountain forests are better at storing carbon than forests on flat land. Plus, historian Ken Scoville previews Tucson’s official 242nd birthday celebration.

Five-term Pima County Supervisor to Confront Arizona’s Deadly Opiate Epidemic

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 ‑ FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 

Five-term Pima County Supervisor to Confront Arizona’s Deadly Opiate Epidemic

Ray Carroll joins Tucson-based Amity Foundation, returning to his roots in state’s private
non-profit sector

TUCSON, AZ – Just short of 20 years as Pima County’s District 4 Supervisor, rather than seeking a sixth term Ray Carroll has decided to focus on battling Arizona’s historic opiate crisis, which kills more than two Arizonans daily, a 74% increase since 2012, by joining Tucson-based non-profit Amity Foundation.

Amity formed in 1969 to address the opiate crisis of the 1960’s and was originally called Tucson Awareness House. Carroll will immediately address the threat of a $77 billion cut in Medicaid & the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. If passed, it will drastically cut AHCCS funds over the next 10 years, which would be disastrous to health and mental health care systems in Arizona and hurt those in need.

“I am determined to protect Medicaid and all government services so that funding remains in place for so many in need,” said Carroll. “We must address the out-of-control opiate crisis in Arizona, as well as expand services to 1st Nations tribal members and develop work readiness services via Amity’s vocational training programs.”

Carroll also noted the paucity of available and affordable units in Tucson’s housing system. Amity has been subsidizing quality affordable housing for over 3 years via its Dragonfly Village campus that fills a gap of housing needs in Pima County.

Amidst many offers to join several boards, local and national posts, as well as special committees Carroll decided to dedicate his skills and expertise to the private sector in Arizona. After careful consideration of the many offers from a variety of local Arizona based non-profits positioning their social, collateral offerings he chose to join Amity.

Today Amity is a jewel of Pima County providing services to 1000’s each year and has expanded to serve Arizona, California and New Mexico.

For more information please visit www.amityfdn.org

$1 Million grant brings Amity project to reality

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Amity Foundation received a $1 million grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco to help build Dragonfly Village, a state-of-the-art center for children and families at Amity Foundation’s Circle Tree Ranch, 10500 E. Tanque Verde Road.

 The Emerald Foundation formed by the late Frances McClelland, co-owner of Shamrock Foods, awarded an initial $250,000 grant toward the cost of planning and gaining approval for the construction. Architectural plans were completed by GD&A and have been approved by Pima County.

Amity Foundation will facilitate a capital campaign and provide five acres of real estate, a father’s residency, a swimming pool and other amenities for Dragonfly Village. Dragonfly Village also will accommodate up to 100 family members annually. The Village will feature ten children’s and women’s residences and a community center with dining, childcare, study centers, faculty and classrooms.

Full Article at Inside Tucson Business