Each year Concordance hosts our Participant Graduation Ceremony where we honor graduating participants for their completion of the Concordance Re-Entry Program. It is a pinnacle moment in our participant’s re-entry journey where they are able to share in excitement with their loved ones, with team members and with community partners and hiring partners in their many accomplishments. With 27 participant graduates and over 75 guests in attendance, this year’s graduation ceremony took place on Saturday, December 3rd at the University of Missouri – St. Louis.
For all involved, the Concordance Participant Graduation Ceremony is so much more than walking across a stage to receive a diploma.
- For our participants, graduation affirms their last 18+ months of hard work, of introspection, of setting boundaries, of setting goals and creating roadmaps to achieve them. Graduation is full of hope of what is to come next, knowing they’ve put in the work to achieve all of their dreams.
- For our participants’ loved ones, watching their brother, mom, nephew, mentor/mentee, or close friend walk across the stage means more than can be put into words. For many, this ceremony is symbolic of a new or renewed trust. It represents change, healing, and hope and being able to move forward in this life, together.
- For our team members, graduation is the culmination of months and months of hard work, working with participants on a group and individual level, helping them to navigate obstacles and develop a positive sense of self and instilling hope for a better future.
- For our hiring partners and community partners, this ceremony confirms their belief in our mission and that the work taking place at Concordance is having a ripple effect in the lives of our participants, their families, and their communities.
Each participant’s journey is unique to them, and I am excited to share Deenna S.’s with you. Below is her commencement address given to the 2022 Concordance Re-Entry Program graduates at our recent graduation ceremony.
Good morning, everyone, my name is Deenna. I am currently employed at Triad Manufacturing. Which is a job I secured though the Concordance Employment Agency. This has been such an interesting journey and I’ve learned so much along the way. The support system that is offered by the staff at Concordance is a major key to my success. I can’t even really call them staff it seems like such a formal word.
The people at Concordance became more of a family to me. Both participants and case workers. I remember playing bingo with Mr. Henry and I remember every holiday weekend he would remind us all “Don’t get caught in that trap”.
I remember sitting in on the NA sessions and learning so much. In the beginning I didn’t really think it applied to me, but the 12 step program is so much more than what I initially thought. I was able to modify a lot of my negative behaviors and thought processes with the things I learned.
There are so many benefits of completing the program. I learned financial literacy from James. Time and personal management and self-care from Tye. And the help from my job coach Nicole is WONDERFUIL! I know I can still reach out to her with any questions now that I am a graduate. In fact, I’m in the processes of launching my website for a business to business apparel brand and I will most definitely be reaching out to her for pointers.
From work place etiquette to personal therapy to attorneys, Concordance offers all the help you will need. I know for a fact that without the team there I would have definitely gone back to prison a third time. But with the help of Concordance, I’ve found my current job, I’ll be launching my own business and hopefully one day soon I will be able to start a housing program so I can also help people that are returning to society.
Concordance is making such a positive impact on the world I think it is vital to anyone that has ever been incarcerated. So thank you to everyone at Concordance for all of your help. I hope that one day I will be able to help others find success.