This article appears in the Fall 2016 "Giving People a Second Chance" newsletter
SOAR Provides Opportunities for Success
The 23rd class of SOAR students (Student Opportunity to Achieve Results) at Chemeketa Community College graduated on September 9. SOAR is a 12-week intensive treatment program where students, who are at medium to high risk to recidivate, gain skills and develop the capacity to navigate reentry and their future as productive community members. It is a rigorous evidence-based curriculum. The completion rate of 57% reflects this rigor. Many SOAR graduates have described participating in SOAR as a life-changing – and life-saving – experience. [click here] to hear Robert's story.
SOAR is delivered in collaboration with staff from Marion County Community Corrections, Bridgeway Recovery Services, and Marion County Health Department, plus volunteers that serve on employer panels. For more information about SOAR, or to attend the next graduation ceremony, contact Deb Giard at firstname.lastname@example.org or (503) 949-4614.
Has there ever been a time where you went to prison, came out with nothing or nobody, felt lost and didn't know where to start or how to start? SOAR is the answer. Let me tell you why.
My name is Robert Chacon. I really don't know much about life due to my addiction to meth starting when I was 13 years old. I fell and went to prison where I did three years and seven months. When I got out I thought I knew everything and was ready for the world only to realize I had nothing left, nobody picked me up out of the gates. I had no clothes, no friends, no family, no money, no home, no confidence, no hope, I felt worthless, I had no food and I was lonely. I went to my father for a place to stay and to say "hi" from the three years and seven months I didn't see him. He rejected me, didn't approve of me staying with him, he didn't hug me or bless me after so many years; it just broke my heart but I kept fighting my demons that were trying to get me off track. I ended up relapsing and it only made it worse.
I turned away from people that were trying to help. I was closed-minded and impatient. Nobody wanted to hang out with me due to me being negative and being stressed, and my addiction did not help. Every day and night I was walking alone with no destination. I got tired and reached out to the SOAR program. I opened up and asked for help… you hear me, "HELP!!" This SOAR program became my new family. They helped me with a place to live, food for me to eat, helped me get my ID, helped with transportation, and guided me with new positive skills. They showed me love and never gave up on me like some in my own family did. I'm now sober, have a job, am going back to school, have a place I can lay my head, and even have a girlfriend due to having my confidence back.
You know what they say, that you have to pay the consequences for your actions, and I will tell you this is very true. My mother has cancer, and I feel guilty and shameful because I never enjoyed time with her because I was busy with my addiction. Now that I'm clean I worry about when the last time I see her will be. What I'm trying to say is change BEFORE you go to prison, lose a loved one or your own life. The SOAR program is my family – we're a team.
I would like to thank the SOAR staff and also all those people who believed in me, I love you all and will do anything for this family. I hope for those who are struggling or can relate to me to ask SOAR for help. God touch them to help us that are hardheaded, they will never give up on you. Like a facilitator said, "You are only as alone as you choose to be." SOAR is the answer. Thank you all who believe in me and support this program.