The Brenda Burnham Unruh Job Readiness Program was piloted in the Adult Probation Department in October 2011. The program is named in memory of the late Honorable Brenda Burnham Unruh, Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. Judge Unruh touched the lives of everyone who had the privilege of knowing her. She was a deeply caring and compassionate person and those characteristics were evident every day in her mindfulness as a Judge and in her personal life. On the bench she appeared to effortlessly balance a judicial presence with kindness and concern. She sought out and even created quality programming that would benefit the individuals she placed on probation. Judge Unruh often reached out and offered an encouraging, appreciative word to the members of the Probation Department and that has continued to have great meaning. She was truly an inspiration, on and off the bench.
The program began as a proposal to the Chief Probation Officer and is an offshoot project through the Quality and Outcome Improvement Committee, in response to the Court’s desire for the Probation Department to provide employment preparation programming to our probationers. Once the proposal was accepted, the program was developed by four individuals who also became the facilitators of the program.
The Program has proved successful as more than half of the participants obtained employment by the end of the program. On December 20, 2011 a luncheon and award ceremony was held for the participants who successfully completed the pilot program. The first official class is entitled The Brenda Burnham Unruh Job Readiness/Women’s Life Skills program and is scheduled to begin on October 16, 2012 and run through December 18, 2012. Classes will be taught by the facilitators and will feature a number of guest speakers. Participants are referred to the program by their Probation Officers and they will receive individualized assistance throughout the program.
Thank you to the Judges of the Common Pleas Court-General Division and the Court Executive Office for their support in this endeavor. Special thanks to Donna Simone and to Adult Probation Department Supervisor, Terry Strubbe, for his shared vision for the program, support and assistance.
One final big thank you goes to the Program Facilitators: Michelle Fought, Cindy Schwarz, Rebecca Shepard and Stacy Smith.