About two years ago I was asked to serve on the board for the RISE program. Initially, I didn’t realize the breadth of the program, but after speaking with other board members and colleagues, I determined it would be a great opportunity for me. Two years later, I’m convinced it was the right choice.
I have been practicing law in the Public Defender’s Office for nearly three decades in Cedar Rapids. The clientele we serve are not only facing a criminal issue but most often they have many other issues which need to be addressed. Some lose jobs or housing as a result of being incarcerated. In addition, many are hindered by a mental health or substance abuse issue. This is where the RISE program offers so much to them.
People transitioning back to the community are offered many services to make that successful. Basic services include assistance with food, housing, transportation and employment. Additionally, RISE will help coordinate treatment and services within the community. Perhaps, most importantly, RISE provides a safe place to visit for support and encouragement.
I have had many clients tell me, while being incarcerated at the Linn County Jail, of the positive information received through the RISE staff and volunteers. The RISE program is available to assist once released. The thought of having someone on the outside who is willing to help is a great relief to many.
The staff and volunteers at the RISE program work tirelessly toward a common goal, guiding and empowering individuals recently released from jail to successfully transition back into the community. This effort requires resources. The need is real, and the results can be life changing for many. Starting over requires much effort and being part of RISE to assist those in need is indeed satisfying. Our community should support this noble goal.
• Brian Sissel supervises the State Public Defender’s Cedar Rapids office.