This year the office has come prepared for the masses. There was more than enough shelf-stable food on hold, thanks to Unincarcerated Minds. The local association, made up mainly of former prisoners and their relatives, brought 5,000 pounds of food.
Ralph Mitchell, a member of the group, is from Norristown. He said this act of community service meant a lot to him.
“The main thing I love to do is come back to my community and do my best for my community. I grew up pretty well, but I’m different. And I just want to make sure our community is taken care of, ”Mitchell said.
Saturday was a team effort, and public defenders are still looking to expand their roster of partner organizations.
“We’re looking to make sure everyone is connected to what they need right now. And we’re going to continue to expand our efforts every year, little by little, depending on what we see happening in the county, ”said Hook.
With criminal justice reform having a moment in public discourse, public defenders also hope to seize this moment through events like these, to make an impact.
“Our office believes in a holistic representation of the individual. And it’s our vision with the office that we’re really focusing on three things, ”Nester said.
The first is obviously to provide good legal representation to their clients. The second is to make sure their clients have the tools they need to be successful after leaving the criminal justice system.
The last one is simple and very relevant to Saturday’s event: providing people with opportunities and resources, so they don’t end up in the criminal justice system in the first place.
For those who do, the Montgomery County OIC and Unincarcerated Minds are co-hosting a radiation clinic on September 25 with the Secretary of the State Council of Pardons, Brandon Flood, at the OIC headquarters in Norristown.
Saturday’s event started off rather slowly, but as people started to notice what was being offered in the parking lot, the numbers grew over the hours.
Part of that was because of Seanah Gary, who moved to Norristown from Philadelphia. She was not aware of the event until she went walking her dog. Curious, she brought the dog home and came back for another look.
Then she called her friend Raphael Gladden from North Philly.
“I moved here in 1994 to have a better way to live for my family, I found a niche and have been here ever since,” Gladden said.
Now, said Gladden, he is looking for all the job opportunities available to him.
Meanwhile, Gary said she loved her hair and wanted to go to cosmetology school, but was also ready to learn new skills and help her neighbors.
“I just want everyone to help each other out, and I think everyone should be a part of the community and try to make everyone a better place,” Gary said.
Charles Delaney, of West Norriton, works as a social worker. The wife Audrey Delaney is a special education teacher. They came to the Career and Resource Fair to see what was happening in their community.
“Plus, quite frankly, we’re in dire need as well. So we want to see what resources are available, ”said Charles.
He was able to exchange business cards and interact with people regarding social services.
“I think it’s great that these agencies are going to reach out to people,” he said.
After the food distribution stand, one of the most visited tables was operated by the Norristown Hospitality Center, a neighborhood day hideaway that offers breakfast five days a week, showers, postal contracts, services social, lockers and even job interview assistance. .
“We’re also here to support and encourage people and what they need. We are now offering the Arize program. It is a back-to-work program. It will be from October 4 to 8 from 9 to 3 at the reception center. This is a course that is primarily aimed at honing skills such as resume writing and interview skills, so people can re-enter the workforce, ”said Heather Mingle, Development Coordinator for the Department. workforce of the center.
Sidney Williams prepares breakfast for the Hospitality Center, and he also hosts a barbecue every summer for the homeless.
“We have a lot of people who contribute and help make it grow more and more every year,” said Williams.
However, he said the organization is always looking for more help and resources to support its clientele. The group is holding its eighth annual Sole Harvest 5K and 1 Mile Walk for people experiencing poverty at 9 a.m. on October 9 at Norristown Farm Park.
Another busy booth on Saturday belonged to the NAACP branch in Norristown, urging people to register to vote.
Angelique Hinton, branch president, said she has noticed that the community is often at its wit’s end after disasters. She was there to make sure that didn’t happen.
“Communities like Norristown don’t necessarily have the resources or the support they really need to get back on their feet. And so, this is something that we come across when working with communities of color, in particular. So I’m really trying to work with the county and the federal government to make sure those resources are there, ”Hinton said.