Eastern Bank teams with community corrections center to show holiday love

Posted by Sana on 12/30/2016 in Consolidating Debt | Short Link

The holidays can be a stressful time of year for anyone. It is especially difficult for those struggling to piece their lives back together after struggling with substance abuse and addiction.

Rich Harbert rharbert@wickedlocal.com @richharbertOCM

PLYMOUTH #x2013; The holidays can be a stressful time of year for anyone.

It is especially difficult for those struggling to piece their lives back together after struggling with substance abuse and addiction.

Some don#x2019;t have families they can turn to support during the holiday season. Others are still regaining the trust needed to sit with relatives at the family table.

That#x2019;s why Eastern Bank partnered with the Massachusetts Probation Service to host a Thanksgiving dinner in a supportive environment for clients with strained family relations due to addiction.

Approximately 15 probationers and court-involved clients gathered at the Plymouth County Community Corrections Center at 385 Court St. Thursday night to celebrate the holidays with an early Thanksgiving dinner.

The North Plymouth facility is one of 18 community correction centers across the state that serve as an alternative to incarceration, especially for many who suffer with opioid addiction.

Eastern Bank donated the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

The meal #x2013; including two 20-pound turkeys and all the fixings #x2013; was prepared by Bongi#x2019;s Turkey Roost in Duxbury and was served by the center staff and Eastern Bank Assistant Vice President Donna Bocash-Smith and some of her staff.

Bocash-Smith, manager of the Kingston branch of the bank, teaches a personal finance course at the center, which looks to empower clients with job and life skills as they remake their way in society.

The dinner is offered in a supportive environment especially for those who might be unwelcome at their own family dinners as a result of strained relationships due to their previous addiction-based behavior.

#x201c;The staff at the Plymouth Community Corrections Center is very much aware that holidays are a difficult time for our participants. Many of them are working on mending relationships and earning back the trust of their loved ones,#x201d; Christina Costa, program manager at the center, said. #x201c;The holidays can be a lonely time for them. Thanks to Donna and Eastern Bank, we know that all the participants at the Plymouth Community Corrections Center will have the opportunity to sit with other supportive individuals and have a delicious Thanksgiving dinner.#x201d;

Eastern Bank offers classes for center clients throughout the year on topics such as establishing a checking and savings account, tax preparation, understanding individual credit reports, consolidating debt and applying for small business loans.

The centers are part of the Office of Community Corrections, a division of Massachusetts Probation Service, and managed by vendors. The Plymouth center#x2019;s vendor is Bay State Community Services of Plymouth.

Clients are sentenced to attend the program by judges. A probation employee supervises, ensuring each client follows terms of probation, passes drug tests and has access to community resources needed to stay on the right track to recovery.

Probationers and court-involved clients attend the centers each week and receive substance abuse and mental health counseling as well as educational and job training. Hi-Set (formerly GED) preparation is also offered.

Mae Brewer, a service associate at Eastern Bank in Kingston, helped Bocash-Smith host the dinner.

She described Thursday#x2019;s meal as #x201c;a typical laid-back Thanksgiving.#x201d;

#x201c;Some of the clients don#x2019;t have families or homes, necessarily, so this is their only Thanksgiving, so we tried to make it as much of a Thanksgiving as possible,#x201d; Brewer said.

She said the clients are a close-knit group and relate to one another as family.

#x201c;They were extremely grateful. With all that turkey, there were obviously leftovers, so one of the clients took leftovers for one of his buddies. He brought some home to a friend, so he could have Thanksgiving too,#x201d; she said.

Jonathan Fortier, a 29-year-old Plymouth resident who participates in the program, said the dinner was more than he ever expected.

#x201c;It was a real Thanksgiving dinner. We conversed like you would at Thanksgiving. I think it brought people closer together, and it felt like the people at the center actually#xa0;cared about us. It was not just about the courts,#x201d; Fortier said.

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