SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — Santa Clara County officials kicked off a virtual 5k run/walk to raise money to help individuals released from County jails, many only have the clothes in which they were arrested.
On Thursday a press conference was held by Santa Clara County Supervisors, County administrators and Reentry clients at the Office of Reentry Services to raise awareness about reentry services and give community members a way to support individuals released from jail who are working to re-acclimate themselves back into society.
“Roughly 30,000 individuals come in and out of our jail system in Santa Clara County annually,” said Cindy Chavez, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
“They need identification, medical care, general assistance, food stamps, substance abuse treatment, behavioral health services, employment, housing and any number of other issues.”
Many men and women leave jail or prison after months or years of incarceration with no housing, no food, no ID and no job — many have no choice but to wear the same unlaundered clothes in which they were arrested.
Money raised through the 5k run/walk will be utilized to buy new clothing such as shirts, pants, socks and other basic living necessities for individuals participating in the County of Santa Clara’s Reentry Resource Center.
For Axel Fernandez the Reentry Resource Center helped him get on his feet after spending 16 months in jail with no family support, no job and nowhere to live.
Through the center Fernandez has been able to sign up for General Assistance, an ID voucher and behavior health services to help clear his criminal record.
“It’s been seven weeks since I’ve been out, I’ve been clean and sober … this place is keeping me from making bad decisions,” said Fernandez.
“I felt like all of the doors opened for me. Instead of this narrow path, I have this big wide path … if you really want to change your life, these guys will help you do it.”
Since opening its doors in San Jose in 2012 — the center has grown to help thousands of clients a year and expanded its operation to a second location in Gilroy in 2015.
“We estimated that we served more than 20,000 clients since the center opened in 2012, many of them pursued education and job training,” said Javier Aguirre, Director of the County of Santa Clara Reentry Services.
“They have dealt with substance abuse and mental health issues and they are reuniting with their families and thriving.”
The event has already drawn significant financial support from sponsors like FIRST 5 Santa Clara County and more than 50 attorneys with the County’s Independent Defense Counsel Office, private attorneys, Bible Way Christian Center, and the Aider and Abettor Podcast.
Thursdays press conference concluded with a light walk around the county building by more than a dozen county officials, administrators, and reentry clients.
The Rise up and Run Virtual 5K Run/Walk will take place from Oct. 24 to Nov. 7 — you can sign up as an individual, in teams, or sponsor a race registration for an individual or a family.
Participants will be able to track their running/walking times by using a cellphone app called RaceJoy to upload results to the race website.
Each participant will receive a race t-shirt, a medal, and tips on how to train.
Click here to learn more about the Reentry Resource center and the Rise Up and Run Virtual 5K Run/Walk.