On April 7th the community came together to learn about a new BOSS program as well as a revamping of an existing program – at the Benefits & Entitlements Specialist Team (BEST) and the Reclaiming Our Communities (ROC) Open House!
Staff, volunteers, donors, and project partners met at the BEST & ROC Offices in Oakland and shared finger foods, beverages, and cookies as well as great conversations. Donald Frazier introduced Noah Gaiser who gave a short description of the new direction of the BEST program, and also recognized the hard work and dedication to the cause that has been demonstrated by his amazing team.
The redesigned BEST program will work with individuals exiting the Alameda County Santa Rita Jail, to help get their SSI and other social benefits reinstated. This is truly important as many individuals depend heavily upon these safety net programs and have a limited time frame to have them reinstated upon exiting jail. If they miss this narrow window, they are required to start the process for inclusion to the program all over again – during which time individuals and families may not have consistent access to food or shelter, putting them at great risk.
The Reclaiming Our Communities (ROC) Program was also introduced – a new Oakland United-funded program, it will provided street outreach and support services to ex-offenders and families affected by violence in certain high-risk Oakland neighborhoods. Through mediation and conflict resolution we aim to prevent violence and create stronger, more cohesive communities. This program works in concert with BOSS’s New Directions Education and Employment Program for young ex-offenders, also part of the Oakland Unite umbrella.
Working in concert, ROC and BEST are a great hope for safety, reconciliation, and progress, and are truly Turning Lives Around!