Pinellas Ex-Offender Re-Entry Coalition gets a facelift

BY STEVE TRAIMAN, Contributor

ST. PETERSBURG – The Pinellas Ex-Offender Re-Entry Coalition (PERC) South County location at 1601 16th St. S was the beneficiary of an exterior facelift and interior upgrades last month.

The project was a partnership with PERC, Duke Energy’s employee resource group, their Advocates for African Americans and the City of St. Petersburg Urban Affairs Department.

According to April Harley, Duke Energy’s Supplier Diversity specialist, the project was originally scheduled for Jan. 15 as part of the MLK Day of Service, but was rained out. However, participants were not deterred and successfully painted the building’s exterior and supported some internal upgrades two weeks later.

Harley said the event would not have been successful without the support from approximately 15 Pinellas County Job Corps students in the skilled trades program.

“We previously engaged with the Job Corps students for several activities, including our Youth Energy Academy (TWC, July 9, 2015 issue) and Lineworker Boot Camp (TWC, March 26, 2015 issue), and are always impressed by their collaborative spirit and work ethic,“ she said.

Harley was joined by Duke’s Linton Williams to kick off the day with a safety discussion, just as every meeting and project starts at the company. Duke provided personal protective equipment such as eyewear and gloves. The volunteers were debriefed on hazard recognition, avoiding distractions and actively caring for other volunteers’ safety. Also discussed were any potential hazards associated with ladder use, painting and uneven surfaces.

PERC Executive Chairman, Michael Jalazo, was beaming with excitement to have completed one more step toward providing an inviting and refurbished location to assist ex-offenders transition into productive members of society.

“We were thrilled when Duke Energy’s employee resource group reached out seeking an opportunity to provide a $2,000 grant—and sweat equity—toward a project. The City’s Urban Affairs Department, led by Nikki Gaskin-Capehart, helped make the connection, and by having Mayor Rick Kriseman here to help accept the check demonstrated much appreciated support,” Jalazo said, explaining that the grant Duke provided was used to purchase much needed materials.

PERC was Incorporated in 1999 with the mission to help offenders become and remain an ex-offenders, reunite them with family through advocacy, education, programming and comprehensive service delivery and referral.

Through a memorandum of understanding with WorkNet Pinellas and additional funding from the county and subsequent grants, they have two other offices in Pinellas County in addition to the St. Petersburg location, which are in Clearwater, 6160 Ulmerton Rd., Unit 10 and Tarpon Springs, 1200 South Pinellas Ave., Suite 8.

“PERC relies on donations. When you help an ex-offender, you are helping their family and the community. Please donate what you can to help us break the cycle of poverty, homelessness and prison,” finished Jalazo

PERC is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. For donation details, please email support@exoffender.org.

For more information, contact April Harley at April.Harley@duke-energy.com or call (727) 820-5563; or Michael Jalazo at mjalazo@exoffender.org or call 1-855-505-7372 ext. 208.

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