The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation Employer Appreciation Breakfast

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation Employer Appreciation Breakfast Employers saluted for providing an opportunity City residents applauded for overcoming odds


For Immediate Release

Media Contacts:

December 14, 2005

Ruth L. Tyler, Public Information Officer

Felix Mata, Project Director

BALTIMORE - Five Baltimore area businesses will be honored for their commitment to the successful employment of ex-offenders at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation Employer Appreciation Breakfast on Friday, December 16, 2005 at the Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor Hotel located at 300 Light Street. In addition, four formerly incarcerated people will be recognized for their outstanding personal and professional achievement. Employers receiving awards include Victors Graphics, Second Chance, Choktaw Kaul Management and Primo Electric. Individuals being recognized are Harold Bailey, Melissa Fisher, Brenda Jennings-Queen and Rickey McMillian. Barry Simms of WBAL-TV 11 will serve as master of ceremonies.

More than 10,000 ex-offenders are released from Maryland’s correctional system and return or move to Baltimore City each year. Many of them face obstacles during their transition in returning to work and mainstream society. However, other make a successful re-entry back into the community, thanks in large measure to employers who give them a chance to earn a living.

Work that began as part of the Baltimore Citywide Ex-Offender Task Force in 2002 now continues under the direction of a Mayoral-appointed steering committee chaired by Delegate Salima Marriott. As part of this committee’s efforts, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Employer Appreciation Breakfast, in its fourth year, continues to promote re-integration activities that lead to successful community re-entry and employment.

Outstanding Employers

Victor Graphics, Inc. –This Baltimore City business was founded in 1983 and has become the largest, privately-owned local printing company. With more than 200 employees and nearly a dozen of them ex-offenders, the company prints and manufactures for both wholesale and retail markets. David Gischel, vice-president of Victor Graphics, Inc. works closely in support of the Occupational Skills Training Center and has testified before state lawmakers about the need for programs geared to helping previously incarcerated people.

Second Chance – This Baltimore City company specializes in commercial building restoration and preservation. Second Chance has hired previously incarcerated people since 2003 and works to provide them with on-the-job training in construction in an effort to prepare them for jobs that are in the pipeline for skilled laborers.

The Dennis Marketing Group, Inc. – Based in Baltimore County, the firm has reached out to help other ex-offenders and has more than 20 previously incarcerated people on the payroll.

Choktaw Kaul Management – Based in Sparrows Point, this cleaning and janitorial firm has hired many ex-offenders. At least 75 percent of the company’s staff is retained after one year and have a starting pay rate of $8 an hour.

Primo Electric – This Anne Arundel County company began a pilot program to hire ex-prisoners who are willing to be part of an apprenticeship to be trained as electricians. The program provides employment and paid training and a bonus to those who complete training.

Outstanding Employees

Harold Bailey served 20 years in confinement throughout the Maryland Division of Corrections. During his period of confinement he availed himself of educational opportunities as well as helped other inmates gain access to valuable information and services. Upon his release in March 2005, he connected with a career development facilitator at the Re-entry Center @ the Northwest One-Stop Career Center. Bailey has earned a Bachelor of Science degree in applied psychology and has hopes of pursuing a doctorate degree. Currently, he serves as a GED instructor at the Re-entry Center and attends graduate classes on a full scholarship at Coppin State University.

Melissa Fisher is a previously incarcerated person from Anne Arundel County who was released in November 2004. Now working at Maryland Correctional Enterprises as an auto CAD (computer auto design) designer, Fisher helps plan the layout for workstations and cubicles for state agencies. With five years of experience, Fisher is pursing a degree in architecture engineering at Catonsville Community College. She recently served on a re-entry symposium in Annapolis before policy lawmakers this fall.

Brenda Jennings-Queen was victimized as a child. Although she was always a great student academically, the emotional and physical abuse she endured caused her to make wrong decisions which led to her incarceration. Upon release she began taking classes in both office administration and interpreter preparation (American Sign Language) in an effort to obtain an associate’s degree at Community College of Baltimore County-Dundalk. In seeking assistance to re-entry, the National Women’s Prison Project directed Queen to the Re-entry Center @ the Northwest One-Stop Career Center where a caseworker informed her of an office assistant position that was available at the ReC. Queen applied for the position, interviewed and was selected in August 2005.
She now assists other formerly incarcerated people re-enter society as productive citizens and also looks forward to purchasing her own home.

Rickey McMillian served 21 years in the Maryland Division of Corrections system. While incarcerated, he learned how to work on a printing press. He received support from Catholic Charities’ Re-entry Partnership upon release. He now works as a print operator at Black Classic Press Printing Company and utilizes his skills he learned while incarcerated.

Elected officials scheduled to attend the event include Baltimore City Deputy Mayor Jeanne Hitchcock, Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, Baltimore City Council President Sheila Dixon, Baltimore City Councilperson Rochelle Spector (district 5), Councilman Bernard Young (district 12) Delegate Salima Marriott, and Delegate Brian McHale (district 46).

Other invited guests include Mary Ann Saar, secretary, Department of Public safety & Correctional Services, Katharine Oliver, assistant superintendent, Maryland State Department of Education and Barry Schloss, trustee, Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

The event sponsors include, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Baltimore City-Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, Re-entry and Re-integration Steering Committee, Baltimore County- Office of Employment and Training, Department of Corrections, Anne Arundel County- Workforce Development Corporation, Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Maryland State Department of Education, Maryland Correctional Industries, Baltimore Jewish Council, Governors Advisory Council on Offender Employment Coordination and the Abell Foundation.

The Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, together with its many partners, is committed to assisting ex-offenders as they transition back into the community. The impact of this work is seen in economic and community development that increases the tax base, strengthens and reunites families, enriches the labor pool and reduces crime while providing individuals with opportunities to rebuild their lives and develop and contribute their talents. Expenditures for public safety and corrections are reduced and family stability is increased as fathers and mothers rejoin their families.

The Re-entry Center (ReC) @ Northwest One-Stop Career Center, located in Mondawmin Mall opened in July 2005. The ReC’s primary goal is to help Baltimore City residents who have criminal records - ex-inmates, parolees and probationers - secure employment and avoid recidivism. Operated by the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development in partnership with many city agencies, community, faith-based and non-profit organizations, the Re-entry Center offers a number of employment related services on site, including job readiness preparation, skills training, and literacy/GED courses. Recognition that individuals returning from prison often have many challenges they must resolve before they can move into jobs, the ReC also provides a host of other support services such as assistance in securing identification, access to temporary and long term housing, help in addressing child support issues, connections to substance abuse treatment and referrals to mental and physical health services.

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