Quilters Jean Durfee, left, and Shirley Mento, right, present quilts to Emmee Landry, middle left, and Chelsey French. The young women received the quilts from The Belknap Mill Quilters Guild as graduation presents for finishing the CORE program yesterday. (Roger Amsden/Laconia Daily Sun)
By ROGER AMSDEN
LACONIA — Emmie Landry says her life has been completely changed thanks to the CORE program at the Belknap County Community Corrections Center.
“I’m so grateful I can’t even express it. The people who worked with me were wonderful. This program saved my life,” says the 23-year-old Landry.
Two years ago she was arrested on a charge of selling drugs and subsequently sentenced to the county jail, where she has been able to take part in the Corrections Opportunity for Recovery and Education (CORE) program.
The program is designed to help prisoners with addiction problems find their way back into the community.
Today Landry is involved in a work release program that allows to her work at Dunkin Donuts. She also wears an ankle bracelet that monitors her whereabouts and is allowed to live in her own home.
“If I didn’t have this program and the things I have learned in it I would have gone right back to where I was and the people I used to hang out with. This has given me a whole new understanding of who I am and how I can control my own life,” says Landry.
She was one of three recent graduates of the CORE program who were presented Monday morning with comfort quilts made by members of the Belknap Mill Quilters Guild.
Another of the graduates receiving a quilt was Chelsey French, 24, the mother of two sons, three years old and six years old, who says that taking part in the CORE program has also changed her life.
“It’s the best thing that has happened to me in my whole adult life. I have a new way of thinking about life and making decisions and what’s important to me,” says French.
She is now looking forward to the second phase of the program, work release, followed by the third phase, wearing an ankle bracelet, which will enable her to be reunited on a daily basis with her sons
“I’m ready to start a new phase of my life and be confident in myself,” says French.
The CORE program, which expanded from three days a week to five days a week with the opening of the new Community Corrections Center last fall, provides courses dealing with decision-making skills, parenting, anger management, employment readiness and career and technical education.
Recovery programs are also offered in the evening and are provided by AA and Navigating Recovery.
Three clinicians from Horizons Counseling Center who are overseen by a case manager provide daytime programs.
Jennifer Irving, case manager, says that the program doesn’t stop when people leave the corrections center. “They get up to two years of follow up, which is an important part of the program and helps them adjust to life in the community.”
Making the quilt presentations were Jean Durfee and Shirley Mento of the quilters guild.
Durfee said that the guild has a long history of donating quilts and decided that it was something it could do for the women in the CORE program to show them support from the community.
Some of the impetus for the donations came from Mento, whose son, Anthony, works with Concord architectural firm SMP Associates that designed the new corrections center.
“Anthony knew how important this center would be for the people who took part in the program and what a big impact it would have on their lives,” said Mento.
The CORE program is in its first full year after having been run as a pilot program for two years and he Corrections Department has contracted with Horizons Counseling Center of Gilford for a $220,000 yearly contract to run the program.
The Belknap County Delegation cut the $4.452 million budget proposed by Belknap County Commissioners for the department by over $300,000 and reduced the budget line for the CORE program from $220,000 to $126,000.
Belknap County Corrections Superintendent Keith Gray said the outlook for the CORE program is unclear at this time. He said that the county commission is split on how to make up the budget shortfall and has yet to set a course of action.