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I learned that community partnerships such as this one are essential to promoting public health.
Violence has a substantial effect on the health of our communities and is one of the leading causes of death for our nation’s youth; yet, it doesn’t receive the same attention as other public health issues. The Violence Prevention Coalition (VPC) is committed to finding solutions by investing in prevention and treatment rather than arrest and incarceration – an approach that inspired me to join the effort.
While I was involved in many projects for the VPC, the one that most influenced me was my work with the Pasadena/Altadena Reintegration Council (PARC). In the last two years there has been an influx of non-serious, non-violent and non-sexual offenders being released from county jails with no resources, greatly increasing the likelihood of recidivism. Through the efforts of PARC, a monthly resource fair offers these individuals a myriad of services, ranging from mental health to tattoo removal. I heard firsthand accounts of how formerly incarcerated individuals had turned their lives around and was filled with emotion. I saw how they desperately wanted to succeed. I knew then that I wanted a career in which I could work with the formerly incarcerated to help them reintegrate into society – improving their health as well as the health of their communities.
Without the resources to successfully reintegrate, this population will most likely fall through the cracks in the system and return to jail, continuing the costly and detrimental cycle of crime and incarceration. I learned that community partnerships such as this one are essential to promoting public health.