Pictured from left: Parole Agent Latrice Jarvis; Reentrant Joel Kenkelen; Parole Supervisor Colin Kelley; and Deputy District Director Freddie Joe.
SCI Retreat officials, working with the prison's Community Development Organization—The Junior Chamber of Commerce—entered into an initiative to provide paroling inmates with tools to help them obtain employment upon release from prison.
"The Barber Shop Cosmetology Tool and Equipment Initiative" began thanks to a conversation between Vocational Barber Instructor Christopher Serge and Parole Supervisor Jack Aversa. Each recognized how difficult it is for a reentrant to show potential employers the skills they have learned without having the tools of the trade.
They approached the prison's Community Development Organization and asked them to pay for the purchasing of a barber tools/equipment kit that would be given to a reentrant who would be paroling. It was decided to give the kit to a paroling individual (rather than someone maxing out) so that the parole agent could offer support to the individual throughout the length of his parole supervision. This also holds the reentrant accountable for the equipment, guaranteeing it would be used as intended.
The first recipient of this initiative was Reentrant Joel Kenkelen, who was paroled and picked up the tool kit from the Chester District Office.
"I feel inspired to give back to my community and show my gratitude," Kenkelen said. "I appreciate all of the people who recognized and cared enough to give me such a wonderful gift. I intend to offer free haircuts within my community. Again, I am very grateful and thank you so much."