WCRC Chair 2013 – current
Outreach Specialist 2011- current
A personal understanding of the struggles surrounding reentry brought me to my very first reentry council meeting at the end of 2010. I had been active in my church and other non-profit organizations, as an outreach specialist and event coordinator, but I had not found a group or organization where I could openly speak about my history of justice involvement and be of service to others with a similar experiences and barriers without judgement.
Just over a year later, when asked to become Chair, I found the courage to step up lead after seeing the guiding principles of collaboration, inclusion and transparency in action through the works of the council.
As the WCRC Chair and Outreach specialist, I have been so very fortunate to work with the most amazing volunteers, legislators, leaders in community corrections, faith communities and more. I have traveled to Salem to testify in front of legislative committees and was proud to see that piece of legislation, known as the “Mugshot Bill”, become a law. Over the last four years, I have regularly attended reentry council meetings in other counties, the Governors Reentry Council meeting in Salem as well as meetings of Partnership for Safety & Justice and ROAR (Reentry Organization And Resources) with Mercy Corps in Portland. In 2013, I was among the first 12 women to attend a Kairos Outside event in Oregon. In 2014, as part of the team serving at the next Outside event, I brought over a dozen other women from Washington County to experience the love of Kairos. Other groups I have collaborated with include Celebrate Recovery, Celebrate Recovery Inside, Prison Fellowship and efforts to bring Kairos Inside to Oregon prisons. I have attended and supported Light My Way at Sonrise Church in Hillsboro, Cedar Mill Bible Church Freedom Fellowship services in Beaverton and Free on the Outside services in Oregon City which are all faith based worship opportunities developed with love to serve those who have been incarcerated.
In the first year as Chair, I began developing and expanding committees, and volunteers to lead the committees, focused on reentry core needs. Since the council is 100% volunteer, recruitment, development and support of the committee chairs has been a large part of my efforts. In turn, I look to the committee chairs to act as the steering committee in guiding me in my dual role as Chair and Outreach Specialist. For just over two years the council leadership and I held a monthly Reentry meeting for residents at the Washington County Community Corrections center. Those meetings were set off by a speaker presentation by Dave Dahl of Dave’s Killer Bread who later sent the residents copies of his video “The Good Seed” and boxes of Dave’s Killer Bread.
Approximately two and a half years ago, I was instrumental in initiating a Dual Diagnosis Anonymous meeting inside the Community Corrections center with the first meeting being led by DDA founder/creator Corbett Monica. Each year I have put together a small holiday party for the group bringing home-made baked bread, popcorn and hot apple cider to enjoy along with a viewing of the movie A Charlie Brown Christmas. Working alongside council committee chairs, that meeting is still going strong, We have been able to expand now offering an open DDA meeting in the community with plans to start up more.
Two other annual events that I proudly took the lead in creating are the National Day of Prayer event held at the fountain plaza in the heart of downtown Hillsboro and the Children of Incarcerated Parents Gift Giving project which serves children whose parents are in custody at the Washington County jail over the Christmas holiday.
I attend the Housing Support Services Network meetings as the Washington County Reentry Council rep and am a member of the HSSN CoC work group. I convened the group now know as the Washington County TransHousing Coalition and have given numerous volunteer hours to the work of increasing much needed transitional housing in Washington county.
I am employed by a substance abuse outpatient treatment program and am often encouraged to see reentry individuals as they begin, or return to, their journey of recovery from struggles with addiction, mental health and criminality issues.
I most sincerely feel blessed to find my passion and purpose. It has been more than rewarding to serve the reentry population in the Washington County community where I live, work, worship and just celebrated 15 years in recovery.
Martha Duncan-Perez, Chair
Washington County Reentry Council